Friday, July 1, 2016

One Life

    


     If you and 75 of your church members dedicated a year of preparing and raising over $175,00 to take a mission trip to Honduras, would it be worth it if 200 people were saved? How about if it was just 100 people? What if it was only 20? What if only one person’s life was changed?

     Gilma had a plan. She and her grown daughters lived in Santa Cruz, a small community in Honduras. She decided to put her plan into action as she told her girls to get ready to go to the church service. A service was held each night by the large team from North America that had been providing medical care, food and clothing for the community. The team was a bright spot in a very dismal situation for this single mother who had become despondent at the turn of events in her life and was suffering from severe depression. With no support, no money, and no hope, she really could not see any way out. Yes, she thought, the church service would be a good place for her daughters to go as she sent them out and proceeded to carry out her plan. She was on the way to her back room where the knife was waiting for her, the knife she would use to take the life she no longer wanted, her own, when there was a knock on the door.

     There before her stood three people, one from Honduras, and two from this team from the U.S. They told her that God loved her and that he had sent his son to die for her because of His great love. They told her that hope could be found in Him and that above all her Heavenly Father wanted her to be His daughter. They told her that her life could change today, right this moment, if she would only trust Him and His love for her. Gilma could feel the burden weighing heavy in her soul as she dropped to her knees and wept, crying out for the Lord to save her. She knew that He had surely sent these people to her to stop her from carrying out her plan and to show her a better way, His way! The team gave her a Bible and prayed with her, and instead of ending her life, she began a new one. They encouraged her to go to the church where she could meet Pastor Luis, who would help her to grow in her new faith. Excitedly Gilma put on her best dress and hurried down to the church service. She could not wait to tell her children and her neighbors what the Lord had done for her!

     Three of Gilma’s neighbors have now been led to the Lord on her doorsteps now as well, and Gilma continues to grow as the local pastor and church disciple her in her new faith. This ministry to “Preach and Heal” reaches untold lives here in Honduras and Gilma’s story is one of many who have experienced God’s amazing grace. We are thankful for the partners who have invested their resources and prayers in this ministry. We truly could not do it without them and we thank them for their investment in God’s kingdom through their support of this ministry, and for loving the Honduran people. As we continue to be short $1,400 in our monthly support, we ask those of you who are not partnered with us to prayerfully consider being a part of our team. Together we seek to lift Him up as we reach Honduras for Christ!



Gilma and her grandson with Mark and Timothy from the Jim Brewer team, which recently saw over 200 people saved in Santa Cruz, Honduras.

  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hill of Light

     It was my first night to come to this hospital on the coast in a rural, poor area of Honduras.  The nearest decent sized town with a grocery store was 1 1/2 hours away via mostly dirt road that had more holes than smooth places due to the torrential rains during the rainy season.  The area was hot and humid when we arrived at the start of the dry season.  My family came with me for the first 3 nights as were warmly greeted and taken to a small apartment where I would stay for my three weeks.     That night I heard the emergency call on the short wave radio for a code in the ER.  This patient was in end stage renal failure and there was very little we could do for him without the ability to dialyze him.  He passed away that evening and another emergency came in to take his place.  This new patient, "John", came to us with 40% burns covering the front of his body from his head to his knees.  The patient spoke English and claimed to be an American.  He said he was a pilot and that he
had been in a plane crash.  We were really not sure of what to think, but his burns did look explosive in nature, and there was little doubt that he had had possibly some head trauma in the accident with potential swelling on the brain.  Because the burns had occurred several hours earlier, his electrolytes were severely out of whack, and we were not sure how much of the patient's story was true versus his obvious confusion from head trauma and electrolyte imbalance talking.  The staff immediately began cleaning and dressing his wounds and trying to treat his obvious dehydration and critical potassium and sodium levels.
     Over the next two days we learned more about this man's story from a nephew from Mexico, a sister in the States, and the police, who helped us fill in the gaps.  Apparently this small engine pilot went down over 6 hours away from our hospital.  He survived the crash and was seen at a clinic nearby where they bandaged him and told him to go elsewhere to be treated for his injuries. Apparently he was then advised to take a local bus to a small town about 30 minutes from the hospital where he could then get a ride to us and receive care.  The military let us know that there had indeed been a plane crash and that the plane was flying without authorization over the country.  They also said that there was a missing "gringo" from the crash and that he more than likely was our patient.  The sister and nephew admitted that John had chosen a lifestyle that had caused him to not have a relationship with most of his family over the last few years.  We later learned this lifestyle involved drug trafficking, hence the late night flight without a passport or permission from the government.  When one of the staff looked him up on social media, they saw indeed that he had multiple Porsches, homes, and apparently traveled all over the world, certainly living an extravagant lifestyle.
Scene of the crash in the local paper
     All of this did not change the fact that we had a US citizen who was a resident of Mexico in Honduras with no health insurance for the US and no passport and in dire need of a burn center to care for his extensive injuries.  For one of the surgeons and the communications director, the work to
find an accepting facility in the states began in earnest.  We knew that we had little time before infection, sepsis, and organ failure would take over without proper treatment.
     All of us took turns in his care, with several of us praying over him and singing praise songs while we were with him.  We even set up some tapes with scripture for him when people could not be in the room.  On his second morning with us, one of the missionaries shared the gospel with John during one of his lucid moments.  He acknowledged that he was a sinner in need of forgiveness and this missionary prayed with him.  Only God knows the heart, but John did seem to be more at peace after that prayer than he had for the previous 36 hours with us.
     Unfortunately, the response from each burn center was a no, with the first center asking for $750,000 up front for his treatment, and the second naming $250,000.  The family did not have the money, but ironically enough, this patient probably did, but could not get to his money in a small missions hospital in a third world country.  Each day we watched his health deteriorate.  I am sure John knew he was dying and I wondered if he thought about never seeing his daughters or his family again.  On his last evening with us we got a break from a facility in the southeast that was willing to take him the next day if we could arrange transport, but the estranged wife from Mexico suddenly was demanding that he be sent to Mexico for treatment, although she did not have a receiving hospital willing to take him.  It seemed a cruel trick of fate.
     As I gave him his tube feeding that night, I talked with him.  He was more out of consciousness than not as his internal organs were starting to shut down.  I talked to him about the sister who was trying to help get him back to the states.  He said, "She is an amazing person.  Just amazing."   I then talked to him about the fact that he should never have survived the plane crash, and how I felt like God allowed him to survive because he needed to come to this hospital and hear of the God who loves him so and wanted to have a relationship with him.  I knew that John had been told the consequences of the sin he was engaged in was death, but that same God in His mercy had sent John somewhere that he could learn of God's love and make a decision that would change his eternity.  That now he knew of the forgiveness that comes from accepting that Jesus paid the price for that sin.  John looked at me and the last words I heard him say were, "I am a very fortunate man. A very fortunate man."
     The next morning (his 5th morning with us) John passed away quietly in his sleep, the same day he was to fly to the US.  I was sad that he had died alone in a mission hospital so far from home with no family.  The government would not release his body, so it could be somewhere here in a common grave with no marker, no funeral or remembrance.  There are many that would say this man was anything but fortunate in his death, but I disagree.  It was no accident that this man spent his last 5 days on earth at a hospital called "Hill of Light" in Spanish.  It was no coincidence that he had an aunt and several people from her church that had been praying for him during this time to come to know God and His love.  It is indeed very fortunate that John learned of the God whose love for him far surpassed all the sin and wrongs he had committed in his life because Jesus was willing to pay that price for him.

    Yesterday I had Matthew 20, the parable of the workers in the vineyard, for my quiet time.  I was reminded again of the generosity of the landowner and how he gave equally to all of the workers, even the ones that came at the very end.  I remember a time in my life when I did not understand this parable.  I too felt indignant that the workers who had worked all day were getting paid the same as the ones who showed up at the end and barely even put in an hour.  But now I see the brokenness and sin and it breaks my heart too.  I see people separated from God and I understand in my own failures how much I need that same forgiveness, that same grace every day.  I am so overwhelmed by my God's generosity and mercy for John.  How wonderfully amazing that in His loving kindness, my heavenly Father had chosen to make the last first and the first last when he brought John to us.  It never gets old and I praise God for His amazing grace.  I am in awe!



UPDATE:  I have learned that the pilot's body was released and sent back to the US for burial.  The family was able to have a memorial service for him, and I am attaching the newsletter from Loma de Luz hospital which tells the story of this man.

http://www.crstone.org/newsletter-current/

Monday, May 2, 2016

War

     Spiritual warfare.  It comes in many forms for believers.  For some it appears in strained relationships.  For others it presents itself with infirmities that often cannot be explained.  And for some it comes in the repetitive daily problems that seem so little on their own, but when combined they can easily overwhelm even the most optimistic person.
 
     We have served as missionaries on the foreign field before and are not strangers to the attacks of Satan.  I remember while we were living in Costa Rica during language school, Ken began having episodic bouts with severe pain in the lower abdomen.  This is not something that can easily be ignored, but it isn’t really discussed with everyone either.  He went to the doctor who examined him and ran multiple tests to try and figure out what was the cause of his pain.  Everything was ruled out and no cause for the pain could be found.  Of course we had prayed for God to remove the pain, but relief did not come immediately, and so Ken lived with the pain for several weeks before it left as mysteriously as it had appeared.  Even today we see this happen over and over with our missionary friends.  It is difficult enough when you have the world’s best healthcare at your disposal, but it can be even more frightening when you are receiving your health care in a third world country. 

     Strained relationships are often the cause for families to leave the foreign field and Ken and I admit that our first time on the field we took out a lot of our stress and frustration on each other.  Although we never left the mission field ultimately for this reason, we could certainly sympathize with those that we knew who did.  There is always that feeling that assails us in the form of impotence over our situation, that in our own sense of failure we wonder if the other person sees us as a failure as well, even when the fault is not due to anything we did or didn’t do correctly.  Just yesterday I tried to console my husband about this as he lamented the fact he is not an electrician, a plumber, or a mechanic, all of which we have required in the last 3 days.

     And so we come to our current situation and the form of warfare with which Satan has chosen to buffet us.  This weekend we have had our car breakdown in the middle of the night on a road in the middle of nowhere, have had our water heater break for the third time, had our electricity turned off multiple times because of difficulty fixing the faulty grounding wires and poor cables connected to the house (we have been shocked multiple times from using said electricity), and now this morning a pipe burst in our master bath flooding the bathroom and bedroom.  Our small group from our church got to experience a bit of this first hand when they came to work with us for a week when our transformer blew and Ken had to put it out with a fire extinguisher.  Of course this happened when we were getting ready to take all of them to church. 

     In all of this I can say I am not really surprised.  Ken and I are preparing to spend the next 3 months with more time apart as a family doing ministry than together, so it does not shock me to know that the arrows are starting early.  In fact, as our car tried to kill us going down the mountain our first day in Honduras when the brakes went out, I realized quickly that we were persona non grata as far as the devil was concerned.  I have seen my fellow missionaries going through very similar experiences with their cars, homes, family, sickness, you name it. 

     There is an article I read recently that delved into the effects on missionary marriages from living this life overseas in the midst of spiritual warfare.  The article (here) resonated with me so much as I think it recognized that our biggest battle to sharing the gospel and to doing the work God has called us to is not with other people, but rather as Paul says, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) After 20 years of marriage we are still learning this fact in our daily struggles, and I am grateful for the godly man that serves with me and recognizes who the real enemy is, but we are still human and appreciate your prayers as we work together in this battle.

     This all being said, we are in need of some help from our brothers and sisters in Christ in this spiritual war.  Believe me when I say that it was the prayers of everyone that got us down the mountain safely our first day here.  There have also been other times I have sensed that people are lifting us up before the Lord and helping us fight the good fight.  Thank you for this and please know that your prayers are of vital importance, so please continue!  Secondly, we are in need of financial help.  It has become apparent that my vehicle must be sold (unfortunately at a loss) in order to get more reliable transportation for me and the kids while Ken is gone, and of course when I have to be on the road alone between here and the hospital, which is over 2 hours away.  We realize now that purchasing a 16-year-old vehicle, although much more affordable for us, was not really very practical from a functionality aspect.  We drive on dirt and gravel roads every day in order to get to our places of ministry, and this means that our cars take quite a beating, making a 16-year-old car run more like a 30-year-old car.  Although ideally we would love to get something new without the need for repairs and replacements right away, budget dictates we trade my car for something closer to 8-10 years old.  This will translate to an additional $12,000-$15,000 in funds needed to make this happen, something we do not have as giving has dropped dismally since we arrived in country and we are living right now on about 60% of our monthly budget.  If you feel like the Lord is leading you to help in some way with this we ask that you either email us or contact our mission with the information to the right on this blog.

     Before we left Dothan I had the privilege of being a part of the Armor of God study by Priscilla Shirer with some friends from church.  Since my God is not a God of chance, I know why it was necessary that I memorized the rest of the passage I quoted above, ” Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  And so, here we stand and ask you to stand with us and to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” ….and “Pray also for me, that wherever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” 



     

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What No One Wants

     I have been putting off a blog since we arrived because quite frankly it is the blog that no one wants to read.  It is a blog about things people do not wish to speak of in social media, and so I refrain usually from putting it out there and I keep it to myself and to God because sometimes I just have to ask Him why it is this way.
   
The day we arrived here in Tegucigalpa we of course were overwhelmed by the sights and sounds,
even though we have lived among them before, but you see Honduras in many ways is much worse.  The absolute poverty and desolation is sometimes all too much to bear.  We had to make many trips on the road to Tegucigalpa our first month here in Honduras.  This busy road (The Pan-American Highway) goes through several very poor communities and is also lined with large trash receptacles (dumpsters) in various areas as you enter the city because there is no trash pick up in the outlying areas.  So we must bring the trash to Tegucigalpa ourselves for pick up.  It then goes to the city dump.  I will admit when I was told by our landlady (Veronica) that they went once a week to drop off their trash and they would gladly take ours if I would just put it out into recycled bags for paper, plastic, aluminum, other trash, and food (for the compost in our backyard), I gladly jumped on it in relief.  Although I was a bit perturbed about why I needed to sort it all out in separate bags before putting it all in the same dump.  I soon discovered in these trips to and from Tegucigalpa exactly why that was.
 
You see these large trash containers are not just the next to last stop for trash, they are also the

homes for many Hondurans.  These Hondurans will gather up the recyclable items and sell them when possible.  They also will use them to improve on their lean to shelters, provide toys for their children, use as fuel for a fire to keep warm on the nights it drops down to the 50s (pretty common in the mountains outside the city) and perhaps saddest of all, find a meal for their family.  They take what no one else wants.
     
The first time I saw this I realized what Veronica was doing in trying to sort the trash so that the children did not have to do the sorting themselves.  I cannot tell you the remorse I felt for complaining about having to sort the garbage. Ken confided to me after working 3 weeks in small poor villages such as these, that even some of the Honduran translators were unaware of the abject poverty found in many of these communities.  The conditions of many of these people can sometime feel overwhelming.  

In the US many of our homeless are people with drug and alcohol addictions, or vets with PTSD

who are unable to maintain gainful employment.  This is not necessarily the case with Hondurans.  It is a cycle of poverty that appears to have no end.  Most all of the close to 100 children in our Good Shepherd Children's Home come from families just like the one above.  They suffer from malnutrition, neglect, and are starving for affection.  As I get to know these children and see their lives now, it is hard to even fathom the life they led before they came to us.  I am broken for these families as I drive by them on the busy highway to the city.  There are more people than I can count some days, rummaging through the trash, only seeking a little something to eat to keep the hunger pains at bay or to stop their child's crying.  I do not have any excuses that seem adequate as to why I have not fed them all myself except the task seems unending in its scope.

When Ken started going to the villages with the teams I was somewhat jealous at first I will admit.  I have worked medical/ dental teams in the past with our previous mission and I enjoyed meeting the people in these poor villages and getting to know their stories and how God was working in these communities.  But now I know these sweet children that have lived these lives.  I interact almost daily with children who in a not too distant past had these hunger pains and were sorting through trash to find their next meal and shoes.  I shudder to think of where these precious boys and girls I have come to love would be now if it were not for God's provision through this mission.

Over the last 3 weeks with 3 different teams in 3 different villages that Ken has been a part of, the

volunteers have seen over 5,800 patients, given out over 34,000 prescriptions, cared for almost 800 dental patients including extractions of 1,900 teeth,  provided over 1,300 pairs of eyeglasses, distributed over 1,400 Bibles, given over 3,500 pounds or rice and beans, given over 300 cases of shoes and clothing, and most importantly saw 410 new believers begin a relationship with Christ.  As Ken returned from each team, the burden for these broken people was still there, but the load felt lighter knowing that God was again providing through His people to show the Hondurans how very much He loves them.  The needs may be overwhelming in light of the fact that we cannot help everyone we see, but to those who are fed, clothed, healed, and ministered to by this mission and the volunteers that work alongside us, it makes a world of difference.  This is most especially the case for those who come to personally know as Savior the God who loves them and wants to care for them.


If this story touches you, it is my prayer that rather than be overwhelmed by the need, you will be motivated to do your part to help those in need where you can.  There are many ways you can be a part of ministering to the people of Honduras.  Whether it is through sponsoring a child in our Good Shepherd Children's Home, coming down and serving the people for one week each year as a volunteer, supporting one of the many ministry efforts of our mission, or becoming a partner of this ministry, we hope that you will prayerfully seek out the role God has for you in ministering to the "least of these".       

   The Nelson's Ministry page

   BMDMI Ministry page