Monday, April 29, 2013

A Match Made in Heaven

{a personal testimony of how God brought my husband and I together, written in January 2013}

While at a youth conference in Colorado during the second week of August, the Lord impressed upon my heart (as He had many times before) that in order to be wholeheartedly devoted to Him I needed to let go of my own plans, desires, and ideas for my future and surrender to HIS will for me... Even if I didn't understand what that was yet. The hardest thing about that surrender was letting go of my long-cherished dream and hope of marriage. After thinking and praying hard and long about it, I chose to let go of what I thought I wanted and give myself to the Lord completely so that His plans and purposes could be brought about in my life. 

During that same week, my mom became friends with a Canadian lady whose son and daughter were attending the same conference as my siblings and I. In a conversation one afternoon, Mom discovered that this friend knew the young man named Tim who was courting my dear friend Whitney, so she began asking questions about him. During this conversation this friend also mentioned Tim's brother Joel several times as being a Godly young man whom she and her family highly respected. That day, even though she couldn't explain it logically, my mom knew in her heart that this Canadian Joel Holloway (who we had never met) was the one the Lord had chosen for me.

As the Lord would have it, two weeks later I met Joel.

Joel had accompanied his brother Tim down from British Columbia to Missouri for a week of (what I assumed was) visiting Whitney's friends and family. The second day of their visit the two brothers came over for dinner along with two other friends from their hometown and our mutual friends from Tennessee. When Joel walked through our front door for the first time my Mom once again felt confirmation in her heart that he would be my husband. I had no clue.

Many times throughout the next week I had opportunity to observe Joel's character. I knew there was a difference in our ages so I hardly considered the possibility of him being interested in me and interacted with him very little. I did notice, however, an admirable character displayed in this young man which I respected greatly. I'd seen him interact with my younger siblings: volleyball in the rain on the little-kids’ team and long conversations about fishing with my ten-year-old brother. In passing, I'd noticed him enter into worship during the several fellowship gatherings we’d attended that week: eyes closed to all surroundings and singing with a wholehearted passion that couldn't be mistaken. This blessed me. 
We had found ourselves one afternoon in my best friend's living room discussing mission trips and discovering -much to our surprise- that we'd both been to the Central American country of El Salvador at different points in our lives. I'd also immediately taken note of the fact that he not only like coffee, he loved coffee. Just like I do. Still, the thought that he had considered me never crossed my mind.

Then, on the last day of his trip, Joel asked my Dad to go out for a conversation over coffee. 

Peace filled my heart later that afternoon when my Dad called me into his office and told me that Joel had asked for the blessing of beginning a relationship with me.

Little did I know that early in August Joel had received an email from an older brother in the Lord -and mutual friend of ours- that mentioned me. It was then that Joel began to pray about me for the first time, even though we'd never met.

Joel had then flown those 2,315 miles down to our little corner of Missouri with the single goal of observing my character throughout the time he was  here and asking the Lord for guidance regarding a relationship with me. When Dad told me this I was very blessed remembering the honorable way in which he had conducted himself when he was around me. I'd had no clue whatsoever of any such observation going on the whole time. At the end of his week here he was encouraged by what he’d seen and felt total peace and confirmation from the Lord that he should ask my dad for his blessing to begin a relationship with me.

As Joel headed back to Canada I began to pray, along with my parents, to  understand God's heart on the matter. Peace like I had never felt before continued to guard my heart every single day as we waited to know the Lord's will.

After a week and a half of praying and discussing things with my parents, all of us feeling a confirming peace from God about the situation we decided to take the next step in faith.
I found that same peace living inside me, swelling and overtaking me, as I began correspondence with this man I barely knew who felt God's leading  to get to know me for who I am. It wasn't without occasional trepidation, however. There were those little fears that crept in, unnoticed and unwelcome, quietly as I lay in bed at night considering the circumstance. Humanly speaking the whole circumstance seemed impossible and even scary; simply because Joel and I hardly knew each other and lived nearly a continent apart. But whenever I'd take the fears and concerns to the Lord He'd remind me that He wasn't the Author of fear and He'd bid all fear to leave me alone. Peace came back every time.
So in faith I stepped out into a relationship I could've never conjured on my own and the scary became okay.

For about two weeks Joel and I communicated daily through email. We talked about all kinds of things including what a normal day looked like in each of our lives, favorite colors and pastimes,  personal convictions or strong beliefs, hopes, dreams, experiences, and what the Lord was teaching us that day specifically. It’s amazing how much can be communicated through writing! We learned a lot about each other’s lives that two weeks and looked forward to every new email with excitement. Then Dad gave Joel his blessing to call me, and when I heard his Canadian voice for the first time come over the phone so clearly, him speaking my name in that beautiful accent, there was that peace again: over and under, all the way around; filling that first conversation in a way I couldn't hardly believed. There wasn't even any awkwardness.

From then on we corresponded mostly by phone calls. The more I got to know Joel the more I not only began to trust and admire him, I began to discover that he was everything I had been asking God for in a man since I was sixteen.

It was a season of learning to walk by faith like never before. I had nothing to base my decision on but the unchanging character of God. It was beautiful because it daily proved to me that my Father loves ME and had tenderly and faithfully gone before me and provided for all of my needs; even throwing in a few trivial wants for my extra assurance of His genuine care.

And then the day arrived in early October, only weeks into our relationship, when I found myself walking down a jet way: one step at a time, making my way to visit Joel in Canada for the first time. Whitney, who was now engaged to Joel’s brother Tim, turned to me as we sat together on the plane and asked with a smile how I was doing. Above the clouds somewhere between my home and Joel’s I told her I felt nothing other than peace. Still: peace.

Five days I spent in British Columbia, getting to know the families at Joel’s church, celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with him and his family, touring some local attractions, and getting to know Joel better by spending time with him in person. I left more encouraged than I had gone, and more convinced than ever that Joel was the one for me.

We continued our long-distance relationship on into November with daily phone calls, emails, texts and even a few video calls. The Lord continued daily to confirm to us that we were moving in the right direction and that we had been made for each other.

American Thanksgiving came around to us Missourians, and with it came Joel. Joel and his parents spent the day at our home and shared our traditional Thanksgiving meal with us. We enjoyed being together with our families, playing volleyball, basketball, chatting, walking down our long dirt road, eating and relaxing, taking four-wheeler rides and just enjoying getting to spend time together.  It was a day of celebration and giving thanks, but it was that evening that our rejoicing increased majorly. After dark Joel asked if I’d like to go for another walk. Agreeing, I grabbed my coat and headed out the door on his heels. Shutting the door behind him he turned to me. “Actually,” he said “I really wanted to just talk more than I wanted to walk.” He gestured to the rocking chairs on the porch and we both sat down. I looked him in the face and saw that tears were in his eyes. He began to tell me some of what the Lord had been doing in his heart and assuring me that he wanted to marry me. He gently offered that if I still wanted time to pray about it I had no obligation to answer him then and there, but I knew there was no need to pray about it more. The Lord had already made it clear to me in my heart that Joel was the one I had been waiting for all this time. Joel is the man I was made for. I made this clear to him, and after we talked a little more Joel got down on his knee with a ring and asked me to marry him.

I said yes.

Two days later was Tim and Whitney’s wedding. Joel and I began planning ours.

A week later, at the beginning of December, I flew up to BC again to be at Tim and Whitney’s Canadian reception and spend time with Joel and my future family. Joel met me at the airport with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. That week was filled with many wonderful memories for the two of us, including fellowship with the saints there, coffee dates and planning our wedding. The ladies from Joel’s church threw a surprise shower for me that weekend, blessing us with many things for our future home and then that Monday Joel and I flew out to Texas together. He had some business meetings very close to where my extended family lived there so we decided it was a good opportunity for them to meet Joel. We parted ways there, already planning his trip to Missouri just in time for New Years, and thanked the Lord for the knitting together He was continuing to do in our hearts.

Joel came down at the end of December and spent a week in our home with my family and I. I rejoiced to see the way my parents and each of my nine siblings love him so much and enjoy being around him, and thank the Lord for the many beautiful memories that were made for all of us that week. This was our last opportunity to spend time together in person before our wedding in February, so we enjoyed every day to the fullest and enjoyed watching God grow our love for each other daily as we were together... as He continues to do even now that we are apart again for a little while longer.

As I think of the story our Father God has written for Joel and I, I cannot help but think of the many similarities it has to His own beautiful Love Story. Just as Jesus came from Heaven to earth to a people who didn't know Him with the purpose of winning a bride to Himself, Joel came from another country to see a girl who’d never met him with the purpose of finding the bride God had chosen for him.
In the same way that Jesus patiently, powerfully but gently wooes and captures the hearts of the beloved ones He longs to call His own, Joel patiently won my heart and my trust through prayer and months of listening to my heart and displaying his love in multiple ways. When Jesus finished His days on earth He went back to Heaven to a prepare a place for His Bride, leaving us with a promise to soon return and take His Bride to Himself. I get the beautiful privilege of seeing this exemplified in my own life as Joel Holloway left me the first week of January to go and prepare a place for me with a promise to return soon and take me to himself as his bride forever. The Second Coming of Christ has never been more realistic or precious to me before now.

We pray that this glimpse of God’s work in our lives would inspire each of you on to deeper faith in Christ and that you would be encouraged, along with us, to continue to surrender everything to our precious Savior Jesus Christ to the glory of His matchless name.

{photos from our wedding day, credit goes to R&E Photography (c) 2013}

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Maybe This is Why

 {A story from my recent mission trip to Africa... and a testament to the truth that it is sometimes the little things- or the little people!- that make the biggest and longest-lasting impacts on our lives...}

It was June eleventh and I was halfway through my first afternoon at Sanyu Babies’ Home in Kampala, Uganda when I met her.

I saw her sitting alone and motionless on a bench across the hut from me and I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. I put down a baby I had been entertaining and made my way through the little crowd of playing babies to where she sat. She was sitting in an awkward position; as if someone had just sat her down and walked off- and she had just stayed frozen in that posture.

She was staring off into nowhere, a piece of cake clenched tightly in her hand. She made no move when I touched her or spoke to her softly. I picked her up and held her in my arms, but she seemed to just move to whatever I did to her, like she had no energy of her own.

I held her tight and talked to her... I prayed for her and even sang a little bit, but her facial expression never changed and she rarely made eye-contact.

Her arms and legs were tiny and cold. Her eyes were beautifully big and brown, but when I looked into them, at one point, they glazed over and my heart skipped a beat. I was suddenly afraid because I knew that something was very wrong with this child. I moved over to another bench with her, and sat down beside one of the mamas of the Home.

I asked her what the little girl’s name was:  she told me it was Beatrice.  

She said that Beatrice had just come to the Babies’ Home from a nearby hospital that very day and no one knew much about her at all.  She had been brought in by the police, the nurse later told me.

The nurse and I both concluded that she was extremely malnourished, and therefore it was hard to determine her age... but because she had a mouthful of teeth we guessed that she was about a year to18 months old. I held her tightly a little later on as Nurse Sylvia attempted to feed her a dose of medicine, but suddenly, from who knows where, the previously-lethargic little girl found an impressive amount of energy. She clenched her teeth and downright refused to swallow the nasty medicine that the Nurse stubbornly poured into her mouth. She squealed pitifully (the first sound I had heard her make all afternoon) as the brown liquid leaked over her chin and dribbled down her neck, through her hair and onto my arm. After a couple terrorizing and unsuccessful attempts to get Beatrice to take the medicine, Nurse Sylvia handed me the measuring cup and had me try..... but I didn’t get much better of results. Giving up, Nurse Sylvia said that she had no options left than to put in a port and give her the medicine intravenously next time.

Finding a roll of toilet paper, I cleaned up the sad little girl as best I could and then- realizing that I was already supposed to have left for Mengo for the evening-  I laid her down in a nearby crib regretfully.

I hated to leave her- especially just then- but I knew I had no other choice. The nurse had already left the room, moving on to other children who needed her assistance, and Beatrice lay motionless on her back in the crib, staring blankly again. I whispered her name until she turned her gaze to catch mine and I smiled at her several times, telling her that I loved her.

Then, hoping and praying hard that she’d have strength to make it through the night,
I left her.

The next afternoon I made my way down the hill from Namirembe Guesthouse to Sanyu as soon as I could.  We were first set to work gathering laundry off the line because the babies were still napping, but it wasn’t long before all 40-something babies were awake and as loud and lively as ever. While the others from my team scooped up little ones and began to play, I passed by everyone in search of Beatrice.
I had received word from another girl from another volunteer team who’d been there that morning that Beatrice had made it through the night just fine, and was seemingly doing a little better according to several who had seen her the day before- including Nurse Sylvia.

I soon found her and held her for nearly all of the three hours I was there. She was still weak and lethargic, but showed a tad bit more energy by grimacing a few times and actually even pushing me away when it bothered her that I was singing or gently rubbing on her arms and legs.

Underneath all that weakness, I was beginning to tell that Beatrice had quite the little attitude!

I helped with the torturous medicine-forcing again that evening and held her still during the intravenous injection, but my heart was sad and I hoped she didn’t develop a fear of me and begin to associate me with torture. Again, she fought as hard as she could, her squealing a bit stronger and more like a scream than the day before.

Sometimes you have to do things that aren’t fun, and I wished she could understand that I wasn’t enjoying making her suffer, but that I was trying to help her ultimately OUT of her suffering.

Nurse Sylvia said that she needed to be able to gain more strength and weight before they would be able to test her for Tuberculosis and HIV, so until then we couldn’t really be sure of what it was she was facing besides malnutrition.

When the time came again for me to leave I didn’t want to just set her down and walk off, so I found an older mama named Beatrice (after whom the little one was named) and asked if I could leave the baby with her.  Agreeing, the mama took Beatrice onto her lap, but the little girl immediately turned and held her arms out to me, whining in her tiny little voice.  This was the first time I had seen her show emotion besides fighting her medicine, and I was sad but extremely happy at the same time. Not only was she already gaining a little strength and beginning to communicate more clearly, she actually wanted me.... she recognized me as someone she felt safe with... and that was immediately one of the biggest highlights of my day.

I was there to make a difference... and somehow... I could see that a tiny difference was already being made. I couldn't help but thank the Lord!

Thursday, June 14th was my last day in Kampala and I was able to get over to the Babies’ Home first thing that morning. I found Beatrice still asleep in her crib and gently woke her up. I was determined to keep her with me as much as possible this day, since it would be our last day together for a while. I had no idea when or if I’d be able to come back to Africa again after this.
I bathed her, dressed her in the cutest little dress I could find in the stack of clothes, and noted that 12 months size didn’t fit this tiny little girl: she wore a 3-6 months sized outfit.

This day, Nurse Sylvia handed me the medicine and asked if I’d do the honors. I was thankful to have the opportunity to try it gently, without the struggle she was used to. She still whined and fought it some, but it went much more smoothly this time. I cleaned the medicine off her clothes and washed her hair again. As Beatrice sat on my lap outside, the nurse gave her a haircut, saying she was beginning to look “shabby”.

I snatched a tiny pinch of her black curls and stuck them in my pocket. (Shh!)

A little while later one of the teachers gave me a packet of something called Plumpy Nut and said that I was to feed it to Beatrice. My friend Emma, a girl who was very familiar with the Home and had also dealt much with malnourished children, assured me that this would be really good for Beatrice (if she’d eat it) and would help her gain weight quickly. At first Beatrice stubbornly clamped her mouth shut, thinking it was just another kind of nasty medicine, but after watching me taste it in front of her and slip some through her lips, she decided it wasn’t so bad after all. I rejoiced inwardly as I watched her willingly open her mouth for more.

The physical therapist who was there for the day asked if I would help with Beatrice's therapy and I felt as privileged as if I'd just been handed the world. I watched almost breathlessly as my baby girl shyly crawled to the therapist when beckoned, and then -upon command- stood herself up and walked across the mat. She was progressing so fast! I helped gently exercise and stretch her muscles and then massaged her body, silently praying for her and her little life as my hands gently moved across her chocolate-colored skin. I kept watching the clock, knowing my time at Sanyu was coming to a close. I had been told to be back at the chapel at Mengo Hospital (where most of my team was spending their time that week) for a service by 10:30, and it was already almost 10. I found Vicky, one of the directors of the Home, in the hallway and asked special permission to take pictures of Beatrice. She said that I could, so my sister Emily and I spent the next few minutes snapping away pictures together with this precious little girl who had become so very dear to our hearts in the last few days.

Finally, I leaned over and whispered to her, simply,  “Beatrice, honey, I’m going to have to leave soon.”
She whined, reached up and grabbed part of my shirt in her little fist and held on.

I couldn’t believe she had actually understood what I’d just said to her!

I could only imagine what kind of a life she had led up until that day, but the fact that I was now leaving her too was ripping my heart up.

holding my shirt tightly

Soon, I could hold it off no longer. I took her inside where some of the babies were having a snack. I found my friend, Laura, and told her I had to leave now; asking if she’d make sure Beatrice was well taken care of until she also had to leave later on. She understood that this wasn’t an easy moment for either one of us, and kindly offered to feed her a bottle while I left. I held Beatrice close, whispered many things to her, kissed her, hugged her, and finally said goodbye. I slipped her into her highchair despite her little whining and watched for just a second, then turned away.

That was the last time I saw her.
Never once did I see her smile. 

Many times since I left her I prayed for her, worried about her, and wrote to the director of the Home asking about her condition. Friends of mine from all over the world were praying for her, this little girl of mine, because she had captured a special place in all their hearts.
In my heart I had begun praying and scheming up plans of bringing her home.

Tonight I would be asking you to pray with me for this sweet little girl, but almost two weeks after returning to the States I was informed that Beatrice went to be with Jesus.

I don’t really know how, I don’t know why;

all I know is that she had been taken into the hospital the week before because of some symptoms which included vomiting. I had been praying for her to be healed, but Jesus had other plans for her life.

I found out after she had died that soon after I had left, another woman had taken notice of her. Jenny is an American mama of 15 children who, with her husband, was in the process of adopting a little girl from Sanyu Babies’ Home at that very time. She has been staying at the Home temporarily until the adoption was complete, and when she discovered little Beatrice and noticed her condition, she immediately began taking measures to fight for her life. She notified people around the world of Beatrice and her needs, and soon The Baby Beatrice Fund was begun and many contributed towards her care. All this, and I didn't even know!
If I’m not mistaken, it was Jenny herself that made sure my sweet girl was taken into the hospital when her condition became worse, and Jenny was the one who thought to go out and buy a beautiful, frilly dress and flower headband to dress Beatrice in for her burial a week later.

How many time can I look in your eyes and say I have nothing to give?

At her death Beatrice was two-and-a-half years old, ten pounds, and HIV positive. She was buried in a graveyard that was surrounded by a trash dump where local people of all ages dig around to find food.

I don’t know why the Lord brought Beatrice into my life, but I do know that I have been changed by the impact of the story of her life and death. At times since her passing, I have wondered and asked the Lord what the point was of those three or four short days at Sanyu with Beatrice, and why in the world He put her in my life and then took her away?

And then- slowly, quietly- it occurred to me that maybe...


it isn’t about me at all. 

Maybe all of that was so that she could be loved in a way she hadn’t before, so that she could be cared for... even just for a few hours... by this insignificant, self-consumed girl from across the world.

And maybe that’s why we go to Africa at all:
Maybe that’s what this Christian life is all about:

Giving away the love that we have received.  Even when we don’t understand the outcome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Of Drinking Coffee and Eating Elephants

They say that that "the cobbler's children have no shoes", but not so in Honduras. Not so with the coffee crop. Not from what I've encountered, anyway.
Coffee, my bean-loving friends, is everywhere in Honduras and ...believe me... I consumed my share of it while I was there for two and a half weeks in January. And so, I will begin my story with coffee.

It was over one of those steamy cups of java on my last day there that it all transpired... and I finally discovered a reason- if not the reason- why God took me all those miles down to the Banana Republic for half a month on a day's notice.

On a wide back porch in the fresh tropical air I opened my heart to her (a girl whose name I won't mention) and she opened her heart to me. Over coffee the two of us talked for hours; both of us, broken girls struggling to believe.... one with hope and one without. But Jesus chose to shine through and I got to watch it happen.

Maybe a bit of background would help...

Having a special place carved in my heart for Central America, I just about jumped out of my seat when I heard about the potential opportunity to accompany a friend down to Honduras for her dentist appointment the following weekend. It was on a Wednesday that I first heard about the possibility and began praying about it, but by the next evening it had all seemed to fall through. Disappointed, but concluding that it must not be God's will, I went back to normal life until Saturday morning when I was informed that I would be going after all. I'd be leaving the very next morning.

(Ahh, life's an adventure!)

So I had flown south, by way of Florida, and the Epic Adventure had begun.

Within the first week that I was in Honduras I'd been in the big city of San Pedro Sula three times, enjoyed the hammocks at the guest house multiple times, shopped in the local market, eaten fresh bananas, attended an entirely-Spanish church service, met many more wonderful brothers and sisters of mine, had a supper of homemade tortillas, beans, eggs and coffee with a local Christian family and learned a few more Spanish words.... among many other things.

our view from the back porch

filling up the wringer washer to do some laundry

buying fruit at a produce stand

one of the busy shop-lined streets of the town

laundry hanging out to dry

the local church building that used to be a bar

riding through town in the back of the truck

natural beauty

Linda, making tortillas for our meal

Coffee beans, drying in the sun

Then we headed out, Jess (my traveling companion and dear friend) and I, to the mountainous western part of Honduras for the second week. Finally got there near midnight after five hours of wonderful-crazy driving over never-ending pot holes with a native-wanna-be driver in an overcrowded truck. I absolutely loved the ride.
We spent those next few days volunteering at the little medical clinic up in the mountains of Carrizal, visiting with the missionaries who lived and worked locally, walking what we dubbed the "hobble-stone" (hazardously rocky) streets of Erandique as we visited several Spanish-speaking friends and poked our heads in the local shops. We bought vegetables on the sidewalk on market day, killed a scorpion in our bedroom, washed our clothes outside in the pila, spent our evenings by candlelight, took cold showers, shared many cups of coffee together, and watched the sun set brilliantly over the distant peaks every evening.
What a sweet time this was! I felt so encouraged and privileged to be there.

a little girl walking down the sidewalk

plenty of yummy selections

market day in Erandique!

weighing up our purchase of carrots

carrying the load together

waiting for someone to offer them a ride in the truck bed to the top of the mountain

a very typical little house nestled into the mountainside

Still, I didn't know why I was there. Surely there was a purpose?

Nearly every morning I would wake up and wonder. I would ask God to show me why He had me there, and what He had special for me to do in this land that was not my home.
Slowly I began to consider that maybe there was no grand purpose in my being there.... no dramatic climax to this story... and that maybe He had me there for the sole purpose of being a blessing to His missionaries there. Maybe I was there to simply serve, and that is all. Was I open to that?

Or maybe He had me there to be quiet and still and listen for His voice. That's always a god thing! Maybe He wanted me to learn to follow Him anywhere even without knowing where or why I am going.

I'd never been here before. This was all new to me, this place. I am one who likes to understand.. who likes to be familiar with my surroundings... or at least know why I am where I am.

And I; the one who probably should have learned these things long, long ago; began to wake up each morning with a new purpose in mind. Still on my pillow one morning, I asked Him to just show me what He had for me that morning. To show me how I could benefit these, my brothers and sisters, that day.

I began to learn the skill of eating elephants.

"You can only eat an elephant," a friend told me a couple weeks ago "one bite at a time."

One bite at a time!

Finally I am beginning to see that it's the little things that are important.
It's the little things that change the world.

It's the changing of water into wine. It's the gentle taking of the children into the arms.
It's the words of Life being whispered to the dying.
It's the shouting of the message of hope to the lost, the confused, the afraid, the addict.

This is what changes the world.

And yes, the task of 'changing the world' often seems to loom over us in elephant-sized grandiosity, but when we realize that to be faithful in the very little things is the avenue by which we learn to be faithful in the huge things, we can begin to enjoy doing the little things.... we can enjoy taking on the challenge one bite at a time.

{I wish I was a faster learner, because these are some of the very things my parents have been encouraging me in for years!}

Then, leaving Carrizal, we made the five-hour trip on the dilapidated roads back to the town whose name, translated, is  "White Rock". Back to the guest house where we started. And for four more days we enjoyed going places in the back of the truck, experiencing the breath-taking beauty of Cataratas de Pulhupanzak, dining at the local cafes, spending time with the kids at the mission house, a game of volleyball with some other traveling young people, getting to know new friends better, and a few other things that were somehow squeezed in to that short amount of time.

volleyball in the church yard

the back porch

I never realized how BIG banana leaves really are!

One of the many hammocks hanging around

lunch together on the last day

Our favorite cafe, overlooking the main street of the town
No, it wasn't alive

our first glimpse of the falls

Cataratas de Pulhupanzak

A wonderful Sunday morning church service

The trip drew near to a close, and the last day came. The day the Lord allowed another beautiful opportunity for me to see how big the little things really are.

Out on the porch I talked with this girl that I had only recently met and I discovered anew that we- every one of us- are broken. Without Jesus, we are all groping through the darkness of circumstances and personal wounds. Apart from Him we are hopeless and quite helpless to do anything about it.

She said I have something she wants.

Ah, if she only knew that I am rotten through and through... and that the only thing I have worth having is Jesus. I tried to communicate that to her.

Hmm. Wait a minute. Could it be that that is what we are all here for? Simply to point... to direct others to the Light? To shout "Hope!" to the elephant-sized hopelessness of aching humanity???

Cross overlooking the village of Erandique

She and I... we prayed once more in the dark that evening and then parted ways. Jess and I flew home that night a little sad, but very much impacted by the whole two-week experience, and it wasn't long before we both got back into the swing of normal life.

But still; I remember.

Bite by bite, I am learning through this whole Central American adventure... and through the gentle working of His hand in my life since then.... that what counts is not necessarily the grand and glorious deeds we perform, but the small things... the little things we faithfully do in His name.

So I encourage you to be faithful in the little things. I encourage you to change this elephant-of-a-world one bite at a time. When you play with your kids... when you go about your daily tasks... when you wash the dishes... whether you're traveling the world or walking through the grocery store... in your conversations over coffee... wherever you are:

be faithful. 

It's the little things that change the world.

And, ya know, I wouldn't be at all disappointed if that one conversation over coffee was the only reason He took fearful and doubting little me down there to the Banana Republic... for half a month... on a day's notice. When we choose to be faithful in the little things, who knows what He will choose to do with it later on.