Friday, August 19, 2011

Medical Missions

This past week a team from Alabama/Honduras Medical and Educational Network visited our village and Natalie got to work along with them in a 2 day medical clinic. You can read more about AHMEN here. The team that was here worked in a neighboring village called Pueblo Nuevo. They did a medical clinic and a vision clinic in the village as well as did a clinic at the school where Ryan and Natalie have been working. The team consisted of a Doctor, a husband/wife team trained in vision screening and a Honduran native who served as a translator and assistant to everyone.

On their first day of clinic the husband and wife team were forced to remain in the dorms on the mission compound due to illness. Mary, had become ill and needed some hydration and rest her husband stayed with her while the others went on to continue the clinic. God was already blessing this team with a local who was able to step in their role and continue with the clinic. Ryan and I were able to spend several hours talking with the Guffey’s and learning about their ministry. What a selfless couple they are, praise God they are doing God’s work.

When the rest of the team came in for their siesta (lunch and nap) it was decided that the Guffey’s were still going to rest and allow Mary to regain her strength. Ryan and I returned home and as we were eating with the kids and getting ready for rest time I kept feeling the Lord encouraging me go visit the clinic. I talked with Ryan and we both agreed that I would talk with the team leader and ask if I could go watch and observe. The leader told me I could go, but would be put to work! Yes, I will work that is what God wants of us.

When we reached our destination of Pueblo Nuevo it was decided I would work in the medical clinic, imagine my surprise when I saw about 50 people waiting for us. Again, God was blessing this team. A nurse from San Pedro Sula was on vacation in this village and was volunteering her time, her uncle was also there and he was able to serve as an extra translator! God is good all the time. I was able to translate some, fill prescriptions, and observe the basic needs most of these people had. The common problems seemed to be High Blood Pressure, parasites, skin rashes, stomach pain and poor nutrition. Ultimately I am not sure how many people we saw that afternoon, but God knows each and every one of them. I could only pray for them as we worked with them. It was so amazing to see God working through the team that He put together. It was not the original team, but a group of people brought together to fit the needs of this clinic.

Day two started a little different, it was time to examine the school kids. It was found that several of the students needed glasses for reading and three of the student had a nasty upper respitory infection. The kids were able to receive glass and medication! What a blessing the glasses are. Most of the families here cannot afford a trip to see and eye doctor, a day away, much less afford the glasses. I am so grateful that they were able to spend a morning working in the school alongside us. After finishing up we were all able to head back to Pueblo Nuevo for day two of clinic and vision screening. Imagine my surprise when I see God’s hand in this AGAIN!! As we arrive at the temporary clinic I notice on of our local doctors who is on rotation at the clinic where we live. He had heard about the team and decided he could spare his morning to help treat patients! How awesome is that? Now we could see twice as many patients and he did not need a translator! We were able to get right to work and begin treating people. Again, I was so grateful to translate and fill prescriptions, what a great job. When we borke for lunch we dropped the local doctor off and as he was leaving he said he was coming back after lunch! Wow! God is good all the time. So, that is how it went. This team that was put together by the hands of God was able to reach out to the people in Pueblo Nuevo and show the love of God.

I wish I could say that nothing major was wrong with anyone and that no one was critically ill, but that is just not life. A very young toddler was brought in the first day and she was not alert. She had a very serious condition and needed the attention of a hospital. Her grandmother already knew this, but did not have the money to take her. The money was secured, but transportation is not easy. The child needed to leave then, but there was no truck leaving until the next morning. I cried out to God, I prayed with the grandmother and encouraged her to find someone to take them immediately. When she walked away from that clinic I could only turn them over to God. The next day we inquired about this family and learned that they were able to leave the day before. As we were told this I could only cry out Gracias A Dios over and over. Thank you God! As I write this we have still not been able to get an update. It has been a week and there is still no news. I can only pray that this family knows of the Love of God.

Not every case was medical. The one that I believe will have the most impact on me and my family is one of vision. If you have read our blog you have read about Bidiac. He is a Miskito teenager that lives at the mission so he can further his education. Our family has adopted him as a son and brother. The kids introduce him as their big brother. Bidiac asked me if the team could look at hiseyes. He said they were bothering him and wanted them checked. I assured him that was not a problem. On the last night that the team was here Bidiac met us at the dorms and the Guffeys were able to examine his eyes. It did not take but a second to realize something was very wrong. I may not be his mother, but I am a mother and I know that look when there is a problem. It is believed that he has cataracts. I know, he is only 17 years old. I wish I could say I handled it well, but like any mother I cried like a baby when we got home. Bidiac has goals and dreams, he is an amazing kid and he can learn Bible stories like no one we have ever met. He loves God and wants to help Ryan with church planting. He also wants to go into the Air Force. His family lives in a small village about 2 hours from here. In the next month we will make arrangements for him to see a specialist. We have spoken with them and if he has cataracts they will do surgery in the same day. The cost for this is $1,000 US. Today, he is going home to talk with his mom to see what money they can come up with. Ryan and I have offered to take him and pay for his travel expenses. I pray for him. God is bigger than this and there is a lesson here. Bidiac and I both need to turn to God! We talked to Walker about this today and as he crumbled in tears we were able direct his sorrow to God. Walker loves Bidiac and he also knows how hard this will be for him.

Even here in the jungle we can build ourselves nice clean areas to live in, but that is not representative of what is really out there. I believe in what AHMEN is doing and the education they are providing. You see they are making this so that the local people can reproduce it and better their lives. At the same time they are bringing the word of God. So many people are sick and dying without the eternal life in Christ Jesus. I pray that as my family works with the people here in Honduras that we are attentive to God’s will and seek out people that are thirsty for God’s word.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Please read

Please read the next three post in reverse order.   They are labeled 1,2 and 3.   Love to all.

The rest of the story....POST THREE

This is Natalie again.   Wow what a story. 

It was just as tense here at home.   When Walker called I was holding a very sick child with a very high fever.   I had to leave her and run for help.   There is one house between us and the Navy station.   I stopped there and asked for help.   The men then ran with me to the Navy station where I was able to tell them what Walker had told me.   They were in their boat in seconds and I was able to tell Walker everything would be alright.   His phone then died leaving this very worried wife and mother in a very helpless state.   I felt drawn to stay at the Navy station, but I also had Mari-Madeline at home alone sick.    I told the remaing Navy guy that I had to come check on here.    When I walked in my door, there were several women taking care of her and feeding her.    One lady sat with her till she slept and then young girls took turns sitting here.   I know felt like I could devote my attention to prayers and watching the mouth of the river for my family.    Another friend of ours sent a boat out to aid in the search.   It was an hour before we heard any news.   Praise God the news was that all were safe!

It was still another hour before I was able to put my eyes on them.    They were all three in our boat with some gentlemen from the Navy driving them.   I was only able to put my hands on Lorelai, there was such a crowd of people.    We fianally all made it in our house where Ryan sat in a chair and cried his heart out.   Walker was just quiet and Lorelai was in my lap.    It was not until a while late when we all calmed down that I began asking about bumps and bruises and Lorelai said she hit her head.   When she showed me it was a mass of hair and blood.   I began to rinse it, but realized she needed to see a doctor.   She and I set out on our 40 minute walk to the jungle clinic.    She has a shaved spot on her head and sports some stitches and lots of bruises, but she is fine.  

That day is a day I will never forget, but it has also been a day for God's glory.   I have already been able to share with some about not having fear as a Christian.   You see we live in a fear based society where the people are afraid of everything.   Through Christ they no longer need to fear, but have hope and peace. 

God has big things in store for the village we are working in and this in no way deters us from doing His work.  Walker and I talked about how God is bigger than everything.   We also talked about his salvation in Christ and how he was assured of his eternal life, but in the same instance there are about 400 people in this village that can not say the same thing.  God is bigger than that and we have been given the opportunity to bring the light into darkness.  
The Lord said to Abraham, "Leave your country, your people and your 
father's household and go to the land I will show you." 
Genesis 12:1

A day of Abundant Blessings POST TWO

This is Ryan:

Church service was wonderful.  The church is a Southern Baptist Church, consisting primarily of the pastors extended family.  It is in a Garifuna village and the service is in Garifuna, Moskito, and Spanish.  The pastor spoke about false prophets.  The music was a nice mix of traditional hymns and original music that is culturally relevant.  After service we spent some time in the village talking with others and letting the kids play soccer with other village children. 
Around one hour later, we decided it was time to head home, about 18 minutes away.  On the way Walker asked if we could run the ocean.  It is much quicker, but we have to check the wave height before we go out.  It has been calm the past few days so I told him we would look and see.  At the river mouth, the waves were very choppy, but small, only 1-2 ft swells.  We decided that it would be a good day to go and we headed out the mouth.  This ended up being a very bad decision on my part.  You have to run out the mouth several hundred yards to get out of the breakers and then it is smooth water after that until you are ready to enter the next river mouth.  About 3/4ths of the way out the mouth a large wave set popped up and the seas went from 1-2 ft. to 8-10 ft in one set.  The waves began crashing over the bow of my boat and Lorelai got scared so when I saw a break in sets I made a quick decision to turn around and head back into the mouth.  I didn't realize how fast the next set was coming in.  We could have drove into the waves, got real wet and made it home safe, but instead I tried turning around quickly.  The next set caught the side of my boat, picked it up, and threw Lorelai and I out into a very rough ocean.  Lorelai was wearing her lifejacket, but I dont have one here yet b/c you can't buy adult ones in Honduras.  I swam to Lorelai and calmed her down.  The water was deep and the waves were pounding us.  Slowly we began trying to swim toward land, yet initially I felt like we were getting further away.  I tried swimming in another direction, thinking that we were getting pulled out in the river channel, and we started making headway.  I immediately began to pray that nothing would happen to my little girl and that I could get her safely to shore.  As the minutes wore on, my strength began to wane.  I am not a strong swimmer to begin with, so doing it with no life jacket and a 4 year old hanging on to her Daddy for dear life was almost too much to handle.  However, the Lord was definitely with us Sunday.  Everytime I would think that I could go no more, my toes could touch when the low part of a swell would come.  Eventually I was able to stand flat footed for half of the wave.  The waves were still very large and were crashing down on us constantly.  I looked up and realized that we were on the first sandbar.  This was great news for the time, b/c I didn't have any more energy to give.  However, a sandbar means that it gets deep again.  On most of the sandbars around here the water may be only a few feet deep, but the water never got more shallow than my shoulders so we never had a real good chance to rest.  The waves eventually pushed us off of the sandbar into deep water again about 30 m from shore.  Halfway across I thought that the end was near for me and I began to push Lorelai out in front of me so I could keep her heading to shore in case something bad happened.  That was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do and hope to never be in the situtation to have to do it again.  Once again, God was with us b/c the moment I had all but given up, my toes touched.  This time it was the slope towards the beach.  Walker was on shore screaming for us as we finally came to shore.  He told me that he had called Natalie and the Navy (like US Coast Guard) was on the way.  They are our neighbors and were wonderful.  I fell to the sand and couldn't move my legs.  I know without a doubt that God is real, He is there for us when we need Him, and that He has something big in store for my life and my families life.  There were so many times that my life could have ended Sunday, yet I am here, in Honduras, getting the opportunity to tell you this story of answered prayers.  I prayed to Him while afloat that there was so much work still to be done in this area and to please let me live so I could continue what He had brought me here to do. 
The only thing that was lost on this day was my shirt, which I somehow took off in the ocean.  I took off my sandals as well, but they floated literally into my hands on the beach while I was laying down.  We found Lorelai's sandals further down the beach on the walk home.
The Navy took my boat around to the mouth of our lagoon and several of the guys walked us back, helping us swim across a small mouth along the way.  We then got in my boat and drove home the last 2 minutes of the trip.  It was an amazing feeling pulling up to my house and seeing along the fence, in my yard and down the street the number of our friends that came out to make sure we were ok.  Just another instance that confirms what we already know; We are where God has called us."
My son was our HERO that day!  After Lorelai and I went overboard, he instinctly jumped to the back of the boat to make sure that the motor was shut off and that I had been attached to the kill switch.  The very next thing he did was calmly call Natalie and tell her that he was ok, but didn't know where we were and that we needed help.  He was able to ride the waves into the beach in the boat and then he searched the water looking for us while awaiting help to arrive.  It was another God moment that he was able to make a call at all, b/c his phone was submerged in water and shouldn't have worked.  In fact, Natalie said that it cut off the minute he reached the beach. 
To be continued...

The Story of our First Worship in our new village POST ONE

This is Natalie,
Ryan and I are going to both write in the next few blogs together.   A little background to get us started on the past Sunday's experience.  

Ryan has been researching villages and was given the opportunity to come work alongside another pastor in a village that is about a 15 minute boat ride from our house.    While meeting with the pastor and talking about the needs of the village it came to light that there were only 8-10 Christians in the village and that most people had never even heard of Jesus, the Bible or the One True God.   The pastor has been praying for someone to come and help him and to train him.    We as a family made arrangements to begin coming to the small worship service on Sunday mornings and to work with him during the week and on Saturdays.  

This past Sunday we were all excited about going to the village, but Mari-Madeline had a fever so we decided that she and I would stay home.   Ryan, Walker and Lorelai headed out for a great time of worship and fellowship.    Walker called me when he was done with children's church and was excited to report that there were 5 snakes slithering around while they were in class.   He also informed me that the main service was in Garifuna and Spanish and that children's church was in Miskito!    We laughed at having to learn 2 new languages and how fun that would be.   He told me that Ryan and Lorelai were still and church and he thought they had about another hour to got.....It is normal for worship service to last 2-4 hours here.   We were so excited about the opportunity to work in this village and Walker was so excited about sharing the gospel with other kids in the area.  

Now, that is the beginning of the best, worst, most incredibly blessed day that this family of 5 has ever had.   Ryan is going to pick up from here in a new post....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

God's Word in many languages

The past 6 weeks the children have been learning and commiting to memory 1 Samuel.   We are still only part way through the book.   Suprisingly, Lorelai is the best story teller of the bunch.   She has listend to every word from the Bible and is able to retell it in her own words.   She needs little correction even after only hearing it one time.  The other two are amazing as well, but it just seems easier for Lorelai.   

Mari-Madeline suprised us the other day by telling the story in Spanish!    She translated it all on her own and was able to tell it to someone else.    What an amazing gift she has!

All three children have been sharing the story, they have some friends who speak English so it has worked out well.   Ryan and I are convicted of sharing the Gospel through Bible Storytelling and this was even more affirmation to see our children being able to do it.   It was even more amazing to hear it told in another language by our children.   I pray that one day they will know all the Chronilogical Bible Stories and be able to tell them in Spanish to the children we are working with.

Yesterday, Ryan and I were looking at some school curriculum for the kids and we were blown away by the wording for one school's wording regarding Bible and Foriegn language classes:
"To know that one day people will stand at judgement seat of Christ as redeemed souls-all beacause of our burden to reach those who do not speak our language-will be our greatest reward." `LBC
How true is that statement.  I pray that we continue to share God's word in the native tongue of the people we are working with.   Right now we are learning 3 language due to the fact that we are working with three groups of people in the same village.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting and waiting

This past week at over 4 and a half years Lorelai finally gave up her pacifier.    She told us she would scream and she did for about an hour.   She then decided life was still great and moved on.    That pacifier has been the object of many conversations between family, friends, doctors, dentist, and complete strangers.   Honestly, the only opion we ever valued was that of the dentist and doctor.  They all agreed that the pacifier was fine, but try telling that to the rest of the world.   We were constanlty persecuted because we waited.   Glory to God that we listened to Him and raised our children in a way we saw fit.  The benifit to this was that our child was ready emotionally when we she parted with her pacifier.  We agree the wait was worth it.

So, what does this story have to do with anything?   Well, we have learned over the past 5 years that everything is in God's time.   When you try and schedule things on your own you will be disapointed and desperate.  There have been so many times that we have waited, knowing that God had something in store for us, but we just had to wait.   I can't tell you how frustrating that is.   These past 6 months have been so hard waiting while we learn a language and a culture.   All that changed yesterday with a boat stop in a village we were starting research in.

Ryan had already made contact with a pastor there, but do to rain, schedules and illnesses he was not able to return until yesterday.    Ryan, the girls and I stopped by after we had helped another family.    What a blessing and humbling experience it was.   Ryan met with the pastor while the girls and I played with the local kids.   The pastor said there are about 500 people in the village with about 8 Christians and that no one else has even heard Jesus Christ name.  You see this pastor has only had limited training and does not have any knowledge of how to reach out to his own people.   He was so excited to have Ryan there willing to train him. help him outreach and was even more excited to learn how to plant house churches!

You see, had we not waited and been patient we could have very easily missed this entire village.   I am so grateful for God's guidance and direction.  

Please join us in praying for this village.   We will not be sharing the name of the village for security reason, just know it is Gracias A Dios, Honduras.    Very ironic that the name of our state in Honduras is Thanks to God!