Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Like Kids on Christmas Morning

I love Christmas. It's my happiest day of the year. Nothing makes me more excited than the anticipation of seeing my loved ones tear open the gifts I so carefully selected and watching their reaction. Ok, Kelly, it's May. Why are you talking about Christmas already? Can we at least get through Mother's Day first? Well somehow our church service last Sunday turned into one giant Christmas party and it was the greatest gift we could have asked for.

There are kids in the world that have never owned a toy, have never been given a gift and have never been told they are loved. That's why Samartan's Purse began the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. If you haven't participated, you've at least seen the shoeboxes collected at churches and civic organizations. They are filled with goodies and treats and sent to impoverished children all over the world. Many times we've helped Nick fill a shoebox for Cub Scouts, Sunday School classes or just to teach him about giving to others. But we never really took much time to think about what it must be like for these kids to receive their boxes or the impact it might make in their lives. We knew they'd appreciate having a yo-yo or a Hot Wheels car, but we could not have imagined how God could use those little trinkets to inspire faith and bring hope--until now.

Since the school is shut down in December for summer break, there aren't many kids around to celebrate Christmas. That's why the staff waited until this past Sunday to deliver the good news. Every child on campus would receive a shoebox stuffed with gifts! After a short church service, we watched over 100 kids tear into their Christmas presents.

We were humbled by this experience. These kids have had very little to call their own and their gratitude for something as simple as a new pencil was inspiring. We saw absolute joy on the faces around us. And between the squeals of excitement of the younger children and whoops of the teenagers, we heard praises to God. It was a powerful moment we will never forget. And it makes me wonder: Why are we not shouting for joy every day at the wonderful gifts that Our Father in Heaven pours down on us?

Monday, April 28, 2014

And then I cried

He looked back at us with tears rolling down his bruised cheeks and recounted the story of his trip. He was beaten, robbed, went hungry for days at a time and squished into the back of a hot semi truck for hours. And in the end, he was caught trying to cross the border into the U.S. and sent home with nothing. He halfheartedly laughed and told us that at least he got to experience his first airplane ride.

This evening we met with our friend and former student, Milton, to celebrate his 19th birthday. Having just arrived home yesterday to a distraught mother who had been escorted to the morgue to search for his body multiple times during his three-week absence, his smile was weak and tired. They are desperate and they are hungry. And I sat there in the booth at Pizza Hut with my ridiculously cheerful birthday cake and my heart broke into a million pieces. This is not a story I read in a book or saw on t.v. This is my friend—a sweet boy whose faith in God is young, but strong.

I know we're missionaries now and we're supposed to know how to respond to this kind of crisis. But the truth is, we are always unprepared to meet the needs of this world. So we did what we know. We took his hand and in broken, incoherent Spanish we prayed. Then we took Milton to the grocery store, bought him a few groceries and drove him home. And then I cried.

The poor and the needy search for water, but there is none; tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. -Isaiah 41:17

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hollywood Doesn't Have Anything on THESE Carpets!

I wouldn’t call myself an artist, but I do have an creative personality. That’s why I can fully appreciate the sacrifice made by the creators of the sawdust carpets in Tegucigalpa. Every year they spend days on their hands in knees on the hot cement creating these elaborate designs to celebrate Holy Week. And every year they watch and cheer as throngs of worshippers trample and destroy their magnificent artwork in their march through the city center to the central church.

When was the last time you sacrificed something important to you to honor the Lord?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What's in a MK's Easter Basket?

Getting Perspective on Easter

You couldn't beat our view this Easter Sunday. From the top of our church here in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, we can see the entire city stretched out below.

Tegucigalpa can be a scary, dangerous place but God uses this spectacular view to remind us that He's still the one in control. After the service, my boys and I climbed to the top of the church to enjoy the scenery. Then, we took a few moments to pray over the city and the country. What a beautiful day He's given us to celebrate The Resurrection!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Breakfast at Gloria's

Learning Spanish is hard work. Every day we begin classes at 7 a.m. in our living room and end between 12:30 and 1:00. And to be honest, it can get a little monotonous at times. That's why our Spanish teachers decided to change things up one day last week. Instead of convening classes in our apartment as usual, we took a field trip to Gloria's house for breakfast with her and her husband, Elvis.

Our teacher, Gloria, and her husband, Elvis, who is also a teacher in a local school.

Gloria is one of our teachers. She's one of those people you can't help but instantly love. She's soft-spoken and polite, but has a great sense of humor. She's patient, sympathetic and affectionate in everything she does. Gloria starts our morning with a short Bible study every day. Steve and I usually lead it. With our limited Spanish, that usually means it's very brief and very basic. But she doesn't seem to mind. She just enjoys reading and talking about the Word of God. After our prayers together, we start to work on verb conjugation or vocabulary. Sometimes we read a story from a child's workbook to practice our understanding. We haven't failed to notice the title of Gloria's workbook, Spanish for First Graders.

You may wonder what having breakfast at Gloria's house has to do with learning Spanish. And I have to admit as I scarfed down the traditional beans, eggs, tortillas and fresh fruit I didn't really care about noun-verb agreement. But as the morning passed and the subject turned to different types of wood used to build furniture, I noticed that Steve was eager to talk to Elvis about guy things. Although his Spanish was awkward at times, I could tell that Steve's skills have improved and Elvis seemed to be just as patient as his wife in teaching Steve new and useful words. And when I asked about the juice served with the meal, I learned that it was actually a very common kind of tea brewed from the leaves of a hibiscus flower and that is an excellent home remedy for high blood pressure.

Dried hibiscus flowers used to make Jamaica, a refreshing, sweet tea that helps lower blood pressure.

We are amazed by Gloria's intimate understanding of the church in Honduras, missions and cultural differences. It's clear that the Lord has placed her in our lives to teach more than Spanish. She is our mentor, our prayer partner and our friend. And we are grateful for the ministry she's having with us.

She is also an excellent cook, which is why we can't wait to have breakfast at Gloria's again!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

We won! We won! We won!

OK, it wasn't really a contest. And the prize is a just a food container. And it wasn't even free.

So why is this dish such a big deal? Well, it's not because the grocery store gave us a big discount on it for spending money and collecting enough stickers.

It's because we figured it out all on our own. No one had to explain it to us. No one translated the information brochure. And no one helped us redeem the card. We did it by ourselves. You might think that's a little thing. But for us, this little dish signifies that we're not nearly as half-witted or incapable as we sometimes feel living in our new country.

That's right. We may be naive, but The Solheims can not only get to the grocery store and bring home the bacon. We can also figure out how the promotional gimmick works. And in our current situation, these everyday victories are worth bragging about!