It is nearing the four month mark on my nine month journey. Everything is familiar to me now. The culture, my village, the city…it’s my second home. My love for the children and families in my village is growing more and more every day and I already am imagining how hard it will be to leave when my time is complete in May. My high from El Salvador is just now wearing off and my excitement for Belize is growing, but God’s plans are not always foreseeable nor are they, many times, what we want in the moment.
Honduras recently had its presidential election with re-running president Juan Orlando Hernandez and candidate Salvador Nasralla. There arose some suspicion of ballot fraud on the part of Juan Orlando Hernandez and due to this, the riots have been an everyday occurrence.
Legally, we have to leave the country by mid December (hence, the visa trip) but with the riots projected to last for a while, Global Year leadership deemed it unsafe to wait until December 8th to leave for Belize. They also deemed it unsafe for us students to stay in Honduras through Christmas without Mike or Tanya, who had planned to leave mid December and return the January 6th. For these reasons, and recommendation from the US Embassy, we were told on Saturday, December 2nd to pack our bags because our flight home leaves at 2:00pm Sunday, December 3rd. I was in shock. I was crushed. I was elated. I was worried. All of these emotions occupied my mind at the same time.
At first glance, this sounds like a dream. Getting to spend Christmas with my family! That’s incredible! But then it hit me. It hit me how much I loved the ministry, my kids and my village. It hit me how much of a home I had made in El Doradito. I didn’t want to take a break, I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to leave in the middle of my ministry; leave what the relationships i had been cultivating. Put everything on hold and leave? How would the kids take the news? They are already upset about Justin leaving and not returning until August, will they think that all the gringos are abandoning them? I became more heartbroken over these things than I was excited over seeing my family.
After Ethan, Mike, and Tanya broke the news to the rest of us, we sat down and read James chapter 1 and talked about the changes we would make when we return in January. Over the past few weeks, there had been an influx in the amount of kids coming to our home, not to mention one basically living with us. Until this point, our ministry had been focused on the school, but now things are turning. Now we have the precious opportunity to disciple the kids who come to our home on a regular basis. This is something I had been noticing for a while and had planned to talk about sometime this week, so it was a great comfort to know that Ethan and Michael were on the same page. Because of this, we also need to change some things about our house in order to make it a safe place for them, a place that will help them feed their relationship with Christ and not feed their existing bad behaviors. These changes will include: regulations on the PlayStation, Wi-Fi, and curfew.
After this talk, I began to see the benefits of going home and rejuvenating ourselves for the work God has planned for us when it is safe to return in January. I decided to make the time I have at home purposeful. Purposeful in my time spent with family and purposeful in the time spent in the Bible and in prayer. Praying for children and their families by name and praying for ideas on how to better disciple whoever God has me to disciple.
Like I said in the beginning, many times God has a different plan than we have, but even still, He is faithful and our labor in the Lord is not in vain. This is just a pause in our work; I pray that when we resume we are stronger with a new-found zeal that will, in return, strengthen our ministry. And as for Honduras, half of my heart is still in that country. I am heartbroken over the unrest that is occurring every day. I pray that during this time of hardship and chaos God will make himself evident in the lives of many Hondureños. My love for that country… for that village, is as deep as the depths of its valleys; my love for its people is like that of my own.