Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dia del Niño

Dear Praying Friends,

I was hoping to do a quick update through pictures about the goings on this past month (actually Sept). I don’t think it’s going to happen. At least not the quick part. In the photo at left is Emma Isabella. She is growing like a weed and she continues to challenge all of us on many levels. Last month in the middle of all the curfews, I decided to try and potty train her. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes I have these thoughts that adding more stress to the existing high level of stress will somehow cancel out the initial stress. I don’t know if you follow me on that one. Some of you might. I bought a book called Potty Training in Less Than a Day while I was in the States last summer. During the weekend of the longest curfew, Isabella and I were holed up in my bedroom for four hours with all the suggested materials so that she could have her intensive training. I had baby wet-its-pants, tons of water, treats galore, and a plastic potty that converts into a step for washing hands. First the baby doll I bought (that was supposed to be the example) dripped water continuously since it didn’t come with a plug or anything. The variety of dolls that are available in Honduras that go pee-pee is pretty limited. Say, like one. I tried everything, even duck tape to no avail. So that was our first disaster. Then Isa would go a tiny bit in the potty only to have a huge accident in her training pants several minutes later. According to the book I had to have Isa wash out her training pants so that she could understand that there were consequences to her accidents. However she loved washing out her wet pants because she absolutely loves playing in the water. So that was disaster number two. I think you get the picture. Needless to say, Isa was not potty trained in less than a day. After four hours the floor was covered with water, tissues, cookie wrappers, and my exhausted frame. Isabella was still alert and raring to go! I felt like a terrible Mom since the book stated that hardly any children failed to launch in that amount of time with this method! I thought about throwing in the towel (training pants) and giving up but we have persisted and she is now going much more in the potty than anywhere else. I was reflecting on this the other day and realized that I don’t mind her messes so much because I love her so. “Love covers a multitude of sins” has taken on a whole new meaning for me!

September is a big celebration month in Honduras and one of the most celebrated days is Dia del Niño (Children’s Day). Gisela and Norma, two of our Jericho House staff members, presented a drama on the streets in an area of the city where many prostitutes live. We have been trying to reach out to the women and their children, many of whom are already involved in illicit activities. So this day we celebrated the children with a drama and games and prayer.

In the photo below, Marlyn is leading the games and I am discovering he prayer needs of a group of young boys. Several of them had tears in their eyes when they talked about what was going on in their homes. So much need for Jesus and His healing touch.

This young girl in the middle of the photo is a friend of Leslie’s. Leslie, you may remember, came to be a part of our Jericho family when her mother brought her to a medical brigade almost two years ago. Leslie was 11 yrs old and already involved in activities too yucky to mention here. So she has been praying for her friend Keiberly who lives the same kind of lifestyle that caused Leslie to look for help. If you take a minute to look at her gaze, you can tell she has seen way too much for her young years. We have joined Leslie in praying for Keiberly and ask you to do the same. We know God will show us how and when to move.

We are so thankful for God’s continued provision. It always touches me deeply at how perfectly God provides for us. We found ourselves scraping the bottom of the barrel so we prayed once again for provision and God touched different people who had no notion of our situation. The Honduran Rotary Club sent us tons of powdered milk, a staff member’s husband provided eggs for the Villa, and a church member had an unexpectedly large corn crop which she donated to us. Pictured here are some of our young people preparing the corn for grinding. In the corn grinding picture, Maria Fernanda is second from the right. Her mother (Norma) works at Jericho. Last week she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Mafa (as we affectionately call her) has responded to this surprise illness with grace and faith. She told her mother not to worry because God is going to use this for His glory. We are already seeing how this situation is bringing her family members and classmates closer to Jesus. And for this we rejoice! Please pray for Mafa and her family.

I wanted to ask you especially to pray for a retreat we are having this weekend out at the Villa for young people who are at high risk for entering prostitution. The conference is on sexual purity and we are sensing that the Lord wants to heal and deliver many. It’s called “I vote for purity”. Elections are next week and we wanted to take advantage of all the emphasis on that event to promote this event! Speaking of the elections, we are so thankful for the way God has answered prayer regarding the political situation. Things are much calmer and people are sensing that clean elections are definitely the way out of this difficult political situation. We are thankful that the US finally decided to back the elections and for the way that the truth of the situation has come to light.

There is more but I will close for now. Thank you so much for praying for us and for being used as a channel of blessing to all of us at Jericho. We truly could not do this ministry without you!
For the least of these,

Betsy and the Jericho crew

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Healing Story on the Streets

Dear Praying Friends,

There is something I wanted to share with you but I totally forgot. It happened one night in August and it was mostly like other nights we’ve spent on the streets. Mostly, but not quite.

The team that came from the States had prayed hard before coming due to the political unrest that has plagued us since the latter part of June. The travel advisories stated that one should not venture to Honduras unless it was totally unavoidable. Ron Pagel (far left in the photo-JM’s US board president) was the leader of the team, and he knows Who he has to consult for travel advice. He told me that God woke him up one night and said, “I am inviting your team to join Me in My work in Honduras.” So they came at His bidding. There were nine of them on the team and all but the two youngest decided to go with us that night. I had not been back to the streets since the beginning of my healing adventure partly because of the new focus God had put on our hearts (reach the next generation) and partly out of the need to recuperate. But right before this team came, the Lord spoke to my heart and said none too gently, “Get back out there!” And so we went.

We met Saira, our administrator, at a hotel close to where the women gather on the streets. We found an empty table close to the hotel’s outdoor pool and in that dimly lit area we spent some time in praise and prayer before setting out to meet our friends on the streets. Our tentative plan was for one of the team members to share their testimony and then we would pray for the women and men.

From a distance I could see that there were several people soliciting on the corner where we usually share and pray with the sex workers when they aren’t looking for clients. As we drew closer to the area, I noticed Tita coming towards me. She embraced me like a child who has just found her long lost mother. Tears streamed down her highly made up face. Tita, whose real name is Carolina, and I have known each other for almost all the years that we have been visiting the streets. She lost two of her daughters in a tragic drowning accident some time ago and Hae Young and I went to support her at the memorial service. That night she gave her life to Christ and vowed to follow him but decided against entering our program. She said she could do it on her own. The lure of the streets was too strong and she was unable to keep that vow. There was another time when she was arrested for robbing one of her clients and she called us to come to the jail to pray with her. Miraculously the charges were dropped against her right after we prayed. She made a commitment to follow Jesus that day too, but just like before, she was unable to keep the commitment. Sometimes when we’d visit her, she would be flying high as a kite and the words coming out of her mouth were acerbic and cutting. Other nights, she would quote scripture and tell us how her Christian husband had left her penniless which drove her away from the church and onto the streets. But this reaction was new. I had never seen her so tender and caring. When she released me from her arms, tears still flowing, she began to speak excitedly to the others, “Look, Betsy was almost dead and now she is totally healed.” The healing miracle seemed to touch her deeply and she wanted to make sure the others understood what God had done. Her excitement made me want to twirl around like one of those plastic ballerinas gracing the top of a music box to show off God’s handiwork. But I refrained. It hadn’t even occurred to me beforehand that I needed to share this healing story on the streets but now it made perfect sense. As I shared, other friends of ours joined the spontaneous celebration and responded in like manner……tears and embraces mixed with joy.

The Holy Spirit was definitely touching this little band. After one of the team members (Jon-front and center in the photo) shared his testimony, the Lord nudged me to ask Ron to pray over each person in the gathering. Jesus had already put this on his heart and so he was ready to be God’s channel of encouragement to these thirsty hearts. Carolina went first and once again tears flowed as God spoke into her heart. Her man was standing beside her drinking everything in. He is a taxi driver and the street gossip is that together they rob her clients. The Holy Spirit led us to pray for him and to offer him the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. It was such a Holy Moment. The Presence of God surrounded us and we were all lost in this Holy Embrace. Carolina’s husband nodded to indicate that he wanted to give control of his life to Jesus. After we prayed, he told us how earlier in the day he had mentioned to Carolina that he wanted to start attending church. Is that God or what?

We came away from the streets that night, awed and humbled. What a privilege to participate in the stretching forth of God’s hand to those who are blind and lost. Thank you for praying for us. You, too, are a part of His outstretched arms as you pray for the lost, lonely seduced ones of the streets.