Sunday, May 31, 2009
With 45 minutes to spare, this newsletter is actually on time! I hardly know how to start this post because it usually begins with a lame apology.
So, here you have it: click on the image below and then go to May 2009 to see the full pdf newsletter.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
God doesn't have to surprise us. Yet, somehow I imagine He sits, enthroned in glory with angels bursting beautiful harmonies, positively giddy (in a majestic sort of way) at the idea of surprising His children with joy. We may be down here, trudging through hardships and trials... but amidst and underneath all of the regular rubble, a steadfast stream just gurgles up with inexpressible joy. Mmmm.
How perfectly thoughtful of our Lord to meet that subtle need (that escapes explanation and then makes me crazy searching for what I'm "missing") in the form of joy.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book about his life, "Surprised by Joy." Given my unwavering appreciation for that man, I know this inexpressible joy has touched others as deeply (and who are able to articulate it more aptly than I).
So, all this abstract talk has surely been a surprise to you, since I've been straining to get any information at all up here lately. Well, don't go expecting any similar bursts of inspiration ... today may not be habit forming (unfortunately, I generally can not control surprises). I would, however, like to share how God blessed me with joy in the form of Micah Project.
(A little background) We've been trying to get a service group going at the school called "Hands and Feet." Throughout this year, we've held bake sales, donation drives, awareness campaigns, and ventured out on a few field trips. After a series of random events strung together perfectly, yesterday we invited the Micah Project to give an after-school assembly.
I'm not sure if it was the extra credit or the praise and worship that followed, but the room was packed out! We arranged for a taqueadas (tacos/gringas combos) vendor to sell after school to raise money for the Micah Project and then everyone crammed in to listen to the story of this young organization, whose purpose is to rescue boys off the streets of Tegucigalpa and then provide discipleship training and education. The director, Michael Miller came, along with Becca (operations director), and three of the boys from the program (Kristopher, Wilmer, and Michael).
Praise God, for he did indeed move. After the event and before we moved into the auditorium for the last praise and worship night of the year, I had a little moment of "Lord, yes!"
Though I still struggle with mission-envy (a new term I've given to being jealous of those involved in other missions), I can see that God has a very sure role for me here. Before I came, I saw an opportunity to connect the students who can make a difference with those who need the difference made here in Honduras. I just felt the biggest, blessed confirmation that the Lord will be faithful to complete that work in this school.
Many, many things are changing next year - more than I can explain pushing these keys. I do know, however, that God is the same. He is just as faithful, just as perfect, and just as concerned with the lives of His children today as He was yesterday.
Praise God for joyful surprises!
I will write more soon, but I have found a car to purchse for next year. If you have not read in previous posts or my newsletters, I have been looking for a car to expand my outreach next year. Though I feel perfectly comfortable and safe traveling around on my own with public transportation, it limits my ability to meet up with students (public transportation is too dangerous for them). A car would allow me to set up times to meet girls for discipleship and pick up students for different events when they do not have a ride. I am also looking forward to increasing my involvement in outside ministries (and getting the students involved as well!).
So, having said that, I am planning to pay for a portion of the car and raise money for the rest. I know the current owner (she's a good friend) and my plan would be to bless a missionary with the car whenever I decide to leave Honduras. I am still praying about everything, but if you are feeling led right now to support this next step in ministry, please let me know.
I'll write more later, for now have a taste of this and do like Jeremiah - take and eat the Word (Jeremiah 15:16).
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READ: Romans 11:33-36
Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? —Exodus 15:11
One blustery day in June, our family, holidaying in the Canadian Rockies, went to a tourist site that was billed as a “must see.” The cold wind made me reluctant to go on until I saw a group of people returning from the scenic spot. “Is it worth it?” I asked. “Definitely!” was their response. That gave us the incentive to go on. When we finally reached the spot, its beauty rendered us virtually speechless. “Wow!” was all we could manage.
Paul reached that point as he wrote about the work of God in saving Jew and Gentile in the book of Romans. Three things about God “wowed” him.
First, God is all-wise (11:33). His perfect plan of salvation shows that He has far better solutions to the problems of life than we are capable of devising.
Second, God is all-knowing. His knowledge is infinite. He needs no counselor (v.34) and nothing surprises Him!
Third, God is all-sufficient (v.35). No one can give to God what He has not first given to them. Nor can anyone ever repay Him for His goodness.
We can say with Moses, “Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11 ESV). What a marvelous God we serve! —C. P. Hia
By God’s grace I stand on tiptoe,
Viewing all His wonders grand,
Praising Him who freely gave me
Simple faith to understand! —Bosch
In God’s character and in His creation, we see His majesty.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
This is the daily devotion that ended up in my mailbox this morning. I just thought, "God, you are so good."
May 21, 2009
Is He Enough?
Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. —Acts 3:6
Is Jesus enough? That’s a question many Christians need to ask themselves. They have abundant material possessions. But do these believers depend on Jesus? Or on their stuff?
While having wealth is not condemned in Scripture as long as priorities are in order and the needs of others are addressed, those of us with relative wealth must remind ourselves that Jesus—not riches—sustains us.
The apostle Peter helps us with this in the story of the lame man begging at the temple gate in Jerusalem. This man asked Peter for money, but Peter replied, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).
The man lying at the gate thought the answer to his problems that day was money, but Peter showed him that the answer was Jesus. And He still is.
I read about a group of Chinese Christians who have much to teach us as they seek to spread the gospel in their homeland and beyond. The se believers say, “We can’t afford any big programs or fancy gospel presentations. All we have to give people is Jesus.”
Jesus is enough for our brothers and sisters in China. He is enough for the poor. Is He enough for you? —Dave Branon
You may have much gold and grandeur,
Yet by God be reckoned poor;
He alone has riches truly
Who has Christ, though nothing more. —Anon.
Our greatest riches are the riches we have in Christ.
And this is a beautiful excerpt from "Letters to Malcolm" by C.S. Lewis. I don't know how people can read things he writes and not think. It might be impossible.
"One must be careful not to put this in a way which would blur the distinction between the creation of a man and the Incarnation of God. Could one, as a mere model, put it thus? In creation God makes - invents - a person and "utters"-- God the Son takes the body and human soul of Jesus, and, through that, the whole environment of Nature, all the creaturely predicament, into His own being. So that "He came down from Heaven" can almost be transposed into "Heaven drew earth up into it," and locality, limitation, sleep, sweat, footsore weariness, frustration, pain, doubt, and death are, from before all worlds, known by God from within. The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?"
Wow. I had to read and re-read, but what really captivated me was thinking about Christ drawing earth up into Him... everything that is earth and the created being drawn up into the Creator. Wow.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
LOVE IS A MOVEMENT
You may have just read the questions above and replied, “Never.” But, dream with me for a moment that it is possible to be moved to act out of love.
Some of us just returned from the Bagope retreat and we’re fired up about the lights we have shining within us. We had a weekend jam-packed with laughter, friendship, and (of course) emotions.
We were confronted in different ways with the things God is asking us to give to Him, to release, or to confess. We lit our “candles” with the light of Christ and vowed to be changed forever.
But, as we return and the emotions fade, those commitments we made in earnest now seem close to impossible in this darkness. At the campfire, one student shared her frustrations with wasting time - wasting the present.
There will never be a time where doing what is right is easy or comfortable. Even so, God commands our love to be one that is expressed through our actions. What is your love moving you to do? Forgive a friend? Speak to your father? Start giving your time to a cause outside yourself? As a child of God, our faith is expressed through love. God gives us everything we need to go and do (and He commands it in His word - James 1:27). So what is your love for God moving you to DO?
When did you last care for something or somebody without caring if they returned the favor? This kind of love is contagious, leaving in its wake eternal change. Please, don’t take my word for it. Search God’s heart to find how He is calling your love to be movement.
As a student in elementary school, I remember the familiar phrase that would freckle my teachers’ conversation right around spring time, “cabin fever.”
No, I did not go to school in a log cabin, although I don’t think that would be a terrible thing. My teachers were referring to the incurable restlessness that overtook the classroom right around March.
As we all struggled to stay in straight lines for lunch, Miss Ludwig would say, “I think you’ve all got a case of cabin fever!”
A stranger might sense the same type of fervor if he/she should happen to visit the halls of Pinares. We can almost taste summer’s freedom, illuminating the end of this four quarter tunnel called school.
Now that I’m on the other side of the education process, I’m wondering if the summer was worth all the fidgeting. The apostle Paul spoke of forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. He didn’t say anything about forgetting about the present. Don’t let the glazed-over look fool you - we are not created to do anything halfway. Just think if God had used that mentality when He went about forming creation!
Every single task worth doing is worth doing well, as my mother used to say. This very day (not tomorrow or the next) we are given is a gift. What good is it to waste the day (or the school year) thinking only about when it will end?
Somehow, there’s a way we can shake this cabin fever and finish well. I am sure of this, because I know we were created to do things excellently. There is always a way.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The seasons just don't make sense to me! Okay, as I'm sorting through the seasons, you should sort through a great, great ministry here - Micah Project. I'm trying to set up ways to work with these boys... so check them out and see how you can help too!
MICAH PROJECT LINK
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Well, there is a lot to catch up on today. I thought for a moment about what I could title these thoughts and this (above title) is the best I could come up with. God has truly shown grace in the past week, even as I was walking through some very rough situations. I'll try to paraphrase without taking away from the beautiful way God has proven faithful.
Let's see, I will backtrack to the beginning of the week, when almost every car here on the compound began suffering some sort of mechanical flu. Everyone took it in stride, but there were many trips to the mechanics and frustrations over changed schedules.
We had a dynamic twin ministry duo speak as special guests in our chapel - Rick and Mick - and I spent some precious time in fellowship with them outside school and heard how truly beautiful is to listen to those God has blessed with the gifts of evangelism. (I secretly think I could see my dad doing evangelism as a ministry... as I was talking to Rick and Mick I just saw so many similar gifts! I'm not sure what he thinks of that, but I'll just keep nudging!)
Also, during the week, I found out a very, very dear friend will not be returning next year. Though I am confident God is going to use her in amazing ways at her next mission post, I am inexpressibly sad that I will not be doing ministry with her here next year. I really won't try to explain how this changes everything, it just does.
Lastly, in between "last" dinners and get-togethers, I am trying to get a plan set up for next year. Proposals for school, ideas and visions, figuring out where to live, if I should drive... all these things are pressing in and demanding I start to figure them out.
Story Number 1
Thursday was one of those days I tried to do it all and the universe seemed to conspire against me (to borrow Paulo Coehlo's words from the Alchemist). After school, I rushed to our buses to get a free ride downtown, but I didn't have the phone (I share with my roommate and she was coaching a volleyball game) and I couldn't find Macayla, who I was supposed to be shopping with (and of course, her car had the mechanical flu). I chanced it and rode down anyway. Now, if you can picture the central square of a very large city, colonial style, this is where I was headed. I thought I could sit in a coffee shop window where I could see people walking by, in hopes I might see Macayla pass. After about an hour of reading, I kind of gave up, but I went ahead and browsed a few thrift stores anyway. We were supposed to be finding outfits for the costume party on Saturday and then meeting up with Heather, Sara, and Melvin to celebrate Sara's birthday. So, I started off and in the very first thrift store, I ran right into Macayla! Without any sort of communication and an entire downtown... I thought that was pretty amazing!
Story Number Two
Well, that same night (after a few GREAT costume finds), after we finished a beautiful night of good food and greater laughter, we needed to get back up the mountain by way of taxi. So, we went to a hotel nearby where we were sure we could get one inexpensively. I was exhausted at this point and the details are a bit fuzzy. I just remember that Heather and I were exchanging money as we walked out the restaurant (we are in a constant state of indebtedness to each other for one reason or another). We were at the hotel, with costumes in hand, and Melvin secured the cab for a good price (Hondurans always seem to do better than gringos at haggling) and we climbed in after saying our goodbyes. Forty-five minutes later, we were up at the apartment, throwing together cupcakes for the next day's charity bake sale.
Then, when Heather and I had to figure out some money exchanging, I went to find my wallet and it was gone. vanished. disappeared. nowhere to be found.
After some severe panic, we prayed and tried to trace back steps of the night to figure out where I last had it. Most people know memory is not my strong suit, but I am also paranoid about things like this and I was positive I had my wallet after the restaurant and I didn't use it the rest of the night. So, where could it be? More praying...
I somehow deduced that I must have left it in the cab, because I shuffled things around in my purse to find the cell phone. I called several people for advice, called the hotel where we got the cab (who thought we were crazy for taking a cab on the street and not one of their expensive cabs) and they took my name but didn't offer much help other than suggesting I come in person, called my bank here to cancel my bank card, more praying, and finally called our friends Tiffany and Jenny to see if they could swing by the hotel on their way up the mountain. Tiff and Jenny, however, were stranded at the gas station with Jenny's Kia that wouldn't start. More praying.
Heather and I walked out along the road where we had gotten out of the taxi, turned over rocks, prayed, and finally came back and gave one final prayer before we went to sleep. Minutes after we prayed specifically for Tiff and Jenny and their engine, they called to say God answered and He would answer my prayers as well!
I know it's difficult to imagine, but when I woke up on Friday morning, I had the most beautiful sense of peace. I woke up proclaiming God's attributes and there was no doubt in my mind God would be faithful. I wasn't quite sure if faithful meant he would protect my identity in cards and passports and bank information OR if He would allow all that to pass and stand by through it all. Either way, I knew I was held in His hand and that was enough.
So, my plan for the morning: I swung by the principal's office at 5:30 (his usual clock-in time) to let him know what happened and that I thought I should go to the hotel and then the Embassy to start sorting things out. So, down the mountain I went, the whole time still believing that God could make the wallet appear out of thin air if He wanted to. I believed it.
At the hotel, the manager was so kind, but very doubtful about the chances I could recover something so valuable. I left the hotel thinking, "Wow. I am very impressed by my Spanish skills... and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do now." So, I started for the Embassy, just praying through it all, trusting God would provide and again show Himself faithful.
Then, I got a phone call from our superintendent, "Caroline, get back up here to work."
"Uh, okay, Mr. Smith"
"I have your wallet right here in my hand."
I later told my students that absolutely nothing could make the day sour for me. God was just too good to allow anything to steal my joy. Spiritual war comes in many forms... and I believe we're in the thick of it up here as the school year comes to a close. But, I know as well as I know anything, that we have a God that is over all and in all. He is sovereign over all creation and my heart says, Amen!
Blessings today and this week! Look for ways God is showing Himself faithful to you in your life! By God's grace alone we are here and allowed to do His good work. By His grace alone.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Why does El Salvador use US dollars?
Where does culture and tradition escape to when "modern" moves in?
Am I supposed to be a vegetarian?
Why did I hear a rooster today... from a second story house... in the city?
How important is it to be 'safe' - will I miss out on awesome opportunities or will I avert crises?
Is Coca-light really any better for me? My friends from high school always used to tell me its rat poison.
Do people really live in this country and not notice it is considered a "developing" country?
Why do I sometimes feel like freedom is tied to a set of wheels when most people in the world don't dream of owning a car?
Why is it so easy and tempting to escape to the reality hidden in the pages of a novel than face the reality of a morning?
Why did I never know that a cashew is actually a fruit (the nut is on the top of a very bitter fruit that grows on trees)?
Why do I love the distinctive smell of almost rain?
How can I be completely fine talking in Spanish in the city to strangers, but get so nervous when I try to talk to parents?
Why is it such a struggle to feel effective and productive?
Can someone please tell me how to eat a mango without looking like I've murdered it afterward?
When you are living most simply, are very simple things an indulgence (like eating very bland foods and a treat would be a little spice)?
Does everyone have wanderlust at 24?
How big can your understanding be of the world? What is the max.?
How can I look back at my journal and feel like I'm reading someone else's life?
You may be completely confused by this list of random questions, or you may be a bit amused. I wish I could write down every question that pops into my mind. Of course, I would want to delete some right away, but others are real gems and they slip away as quickly as they enter in.
I joked in college about making a special device that I could carry on my hip. It would be some sort of techie gadget that I could use to write with one hand (in a simplified, code language of course) while I walked along. I encountered so many beautiful thoughts just walking about campus, but by the time I got to my destination my mind had jumped to an altogether new place entirely!
Oh, how frustrating brains can be! :)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Zach Vinson is going to get married to one of my friends... which makes him pretty awesome already. Add that he's is taking the midwest by (a very little) storm, as he wrote in a recent update, with his vocal and instrumental talent and he's reached a whole new level. I don't mind shameless plugging, so give this little video and look and see what you think. Clever is what I say.
I don't know much about this girl, just that we have some similar tastes in music (as I unashamedly have "stalked" her on myspace:). She has succeeded in bringing a little spark of inspiration back into my life and I would love to spread it around. You can click on this link to go to her myspace OR you can download her songs for FREE on noisetrade if you just send an email to 5 friends. I promise it's harmless and you won't regret it!
Enjoy ... and throw a smile at the stars for good measure. Sometimes smiling without any apparent cause will remind you that you indeed have one.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Click on the image to see better quality.
I wanted my mom to see it first, but this is my little way of saying thanks. I know, some of you think it is corny (namely, my siblings!!). But, mom and I have a special corny language and we understand each other there. Some people send balloons or flowers or cards or thoughtful gifts. I guess I like to send rhymes.
Love you, mom!
when darkness comes
when darkness comes
and the lights are dim;
when comfort fades
and your hope seems grim
when you’ve searched your heart
and found only fear;
when you’ve searched your soul
and can’t seem to hear
some still small voice
keeps saying “slow down;
seek first, my child,
before your heart tumbles ‘round”
when you get weak
and decisions overwhelm;
when you pretend to be okay
but nothing seems to help
when every problem tires
and your spirit is put to the test;
when impatience sets in
and you are weary with regrets
some still small voice
keeps saying “come near;
seek first, my child,
you know I am here.”
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Here's the latest Honduran Horizon. I hope you enjoy. There has been a LOT going on here, and it is sometimes hard to know where to start and when to stop.
I am really trying to "be" here for the last stretch, but I am tempted to anticipate all the reunions of this summer - spending time with family, friends, and enjoying the beautiful midwest! I hope to catch up with a lot of you. I'll be in Michigan, Iowa, Chicago, and Texas for a bit before coming back here in August for some intensive language training.
Monday, May 04, 2009
In my journaling the other day, I wrote, "... a very persistent Wormwood character has done a great job of distracting me from the purposeful prayer I desperately need." Maybe I dive too deeply into the spiritual warfare Frank Peretti so delicately describes in his novels... but I have definitely been feeling the familiar distractions that tear me away from what is most important.
I like to be busy... a stream of appointments, sleepovers, and coffee dates where I can listen and advise and laugh and grieve with people I care about. I also like solitude... long, unbroken and unscheduled hours where the only thing able to find me is a good book.
Both these things sound very good. Yet, little weaselly Wormwood gets into even the good things and takes away from the motive and heart behind them. I can shut myself up in my room and read all day, but feel horribly unproductive and selfish at the end. I can also run a mile/minute meeting with students and friends, doing crazy outreach and feel absolutely depleted.
Sometimes I feel stranded out in the middle of no-man's-land while the 'real' saints go off to battle in prayer... those are the people who aren't distracted by Wormwoods.
I guess I'm just reminded of my human-ness ... and I end up in the same place, needing to rely completely and totally on the Lord. I'm trusting His hand will guide, whether I am feeling distant or attacked or close or encouraged.
Friday, May 01, 2009
I may not be on top of all the filing and the to-do list might never end, but I can safely say I don't mind. This is pretty great.
Here are some pictures of recent happenings.
Primmer: roommate, friend, teacher, and wonderful YESman for me. This night it was YES to meeting up with students for sushi. I'm going to miss her next year!
This is the hostel we stayed at in El Salvador at Playa El Tunco. It was a whopping $7/night and was run by this totally chill pro-surfer who went by "minnie mouse."
80s night! These are some of our girls - we have Honduras, Germany, and Canada all represented... we're so multi-cultural in our 80s spirit - apparently 80s fashion is worldwide:)
So, afterward we had a sleepover at our apartment and some of the girls wanted to play Truth/Dare (typical high school and I loved it!). So, we dared Kaelynne to dress up in our clothes... and when she came out in all my clothes they told her to act like me. ... So she promptly fell on the floor! What a reputation I have!
P.S. Some good books I have been reading/finishing: Letters to Malcom by C.S. Lewis, Two from Galilee (randomly pulled it off our bookshelf a week ago), and The Visitation by Peretti. I recommend them all.
Have a beautiful weekend!