Monday, November 14, 2011

A Holy Moment

Pastor Francis invited us and 12,000 was the number he said would be there.  Well, ok then.  Our girls will prepare a drama and be there with bells on.  Save our Youth Rally 2012, baseball stadium, Tegucigalpa.

The youth in Honduras need saving, there is no doubt about that. Pastor Francis has a heart for young people in trouble.  Dressed in a well-worn suit that hangs uncomfortably off his tall frame, he is drawn to the most desperate, the pierced, the tattooed, the hardened, the wounded beyond imagining.  His father heart for the fatherless has already changed thousands of young lives. 

There were tons of young people but perhaps not 12,000.  Still it was a much bigger crowd than our girls had ever performed before.  They had fasted and prayed for several days asking the Lord to use them.  Their drama/dance was about the power of Jesus to set people free. 

It took some setting our faces like flint just to get into the stadium.  With one small opening for thousands, the crowd became a sea of death threatening waves.  Our Jericho family got caught up in it until panic set in and we had to push, shove our way to the fray.  A young pastor saw our plight and pulled me and Susana, now clamped onto my hand, out of the crowd into the back of a pickup truck and then out to where the sea of people dwindled.  The whole family followed holding hands, up into the bed of the truck and then back down again.  The pastor led us to another opening hidden behind street vendors.  Once inside we inhaled relief and gathered for prayer. 

Pastor Francis had mentioned something about a program but it became obvious that there was nothing written down.  He asked me to pray for the children of Honduras, for the sexually abused and trafficked, for the dysfunctional families.  I took a deep breath, joined the pastors on stage, and prayed for God to fill my mouth.  My turn, screaming voice ready, I stepped out and lifted my right hand.  We were at war.  These were not nice soft whispered prayers.  These were prayers to cut off the plans of the enemy, to declare null and void plans of abuse, destruction and death.  The who-knows-how-many-thousands all raised their hands with me and together we got mad at the enemy.  The last thing I remember is yelling “Prayer is not a vain thing” which I truly believe.  God hears our war cries and responds in the heavenlies.
 our girls post drama with miss Katie.  Paola is in the middle

The drama went well by God’s grace.  If the girls were nervous, it was not apparent.    These seven young girls, plucked by God from the miry clay, are being transformed before our very eyes.  Their early days filled with abuse, betrayal and rejection are now filled with living for the One who reached down to unstick their feet and free their minds.  One girl, Paola, when she first came would melt into a mess of tears whenever she was addressed directly.  Now here she was performing on stage in front of this huge wildly energetic crowd.  Face bearded with my sable eye pencil, her long hair flowing, borrowed baptismal gown wrapped around her thin frame as her outstretched arms held back the powers of darkness (the other girls dressed in black)… was an amazing thing to behold this fragile timid child portraying Jesus.  His strength powered through her.  And so we stood, awed, especially those of us who know her, at the beauty of God's power made perfect in our weakness.

Then the lights dimmed and the concert began. Young people jumping and shouting and energy everywhere just seemed to drain me.  I sat on a makeshift seat behind the crowds and felt much older than my 54 year old frame.  I began to wonder how to find Jesus in all this ruckus.  The answer became obvious.  I needed to join in the wildness, partake of the dance.  Several of my children standing nearby now became dance partners as we held hands and skipped forward and backward keeping time with the praise.  The night sky our canopy, the twirling and spinning bubbled out laughter as we praised Him in the dance.  He must have been made visible to the street vendor child now grabbing my hand begging me to take him on a whirl.  I don’t know how long we danced like that, grabbing joy out of His outstretched hand.  Then suddenly I stopped us.  I asked this boy child, not more than ten, unknown to me, if He knew the Lord of the dance.  No, not at all, but he would like to.  So we bowed our heads, swirling now fading around us, and he asked Jesus to come into his heart.  An unexpected Holy Moment in the middle of the stadium roar.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Leaving the nest

We are in the thick of it, filling out forms, reading fine print, applying for a passport.  There's so much to do in the wink of an eye and I cannot believe that it's finally come to this.  The thing I have longed for,dreaded, with all the ensuing emotions, is finally here.  My first born son is going off to college.

Older brother Mario with Noe and Mari
I can't actually claim his birth.  He slid into my life through a different channel, stealing my heart with his pathetic appearance and sweet shy smile.  He was actually four, not the three we had calculated due to his size and lack of birth records.  A big crossed out X still covers the 4 in his baby book that followed the words "Noe turns" and a big 5 is by the photo of him blowing out his first Birthday cake, ever.  That first day, another X formed by two crisscrossed bandaids  on the left side of his forehead when peeled back  revealed a large scabby wound that was struggling to heal. His abdomen protruded, his hair resembled wheat...classic signs of malnutrition. He had come to live with me and another missionary named Suzy because the mother was long gone and the father was addicted to selfish decisions.  The grandmother, crawling with numerous grandchildren, asked us, no begged us, to take, first the sister, and then Noe. Despite the obvious signs of neglect, there was a sweetness about him, a winsomeness.

Sometimes, when God is about to add or subtract something from my life, He gives me a heads up, but this one came out of the blue.   I was single and not really planning on taking on other people's children.  Mari had been with us a year already and I was still praying that God would do the sensible thing and provide a stable mother/father family.  But as time passed and no beautiful adoptive family appeared, my heart wound tighter and tighter around those two.  They became ours.

Noe was all boy from the start.  He thought he could fly, taking leaps off anything higher than the floor until  that one plunge from the upper bunk scarred him for life.  Homestitched him right on the cranium, that's what Dr. Elvia did.  He was convinced he was the next superhero.  I remember he could not remember.  In a string of directions, he could maybe remember, say, one thing.  Our visiting doctor friend from the States, post IQ test, stated that he would either grow up to be an absent minded professor with an agitated secretary trailing behind him or a very good criminal.  One can only hope.....and pray.  I remember him calling me for the umpteenth time from the bathroom because he once again forgot his towel.  While his memory languished, his ear flourished.  He picked up English in 6 months, parroting back the sounds he heard in the home.  The Korean team that came the summer of his 7th year was impressed at how he could repeat the sounds of Korea.  They say that those who are good with languages are also good with music.  That should have been my first clue that music would play a huge part in forming his life.  But there were other clues on the horizon.

Noe's graduation from 6th grade
He was in sixth grade when his teacher called me into the office.  It was Noe's best friend Eduardo who had tipped his mother off about Noe's extra-curricular activities.  So Eduardo's Mom, who happened to be my dearest friend, told me the scoops.   Noe was in possession of a number of soccer uniforms. Donated from a  visiting mission team, he was instructed to share them with the needy.  By the time I got wind of it he had already sold two uniforms at school for $25 each and had plans to sell more.  His teacher had also gotten wind of the informal soccer shop and hence the meeting.  I was livid and I know I disciplined him though I cannot recall for the life of me what it consisted of.  But a mental note was tucked away:  possible future entrepreneur.

And then there were the accidents.  One day he decided to cram his big feet into his sister's small roller skates.  As he wildly wound recklessly around the park at speeds too high for those sister skates, I called out to him to slow down.  Two seconds later he was on his back with his arm twisted behind.  Many hours and a full arm cast later, he had received instructions from the doctor to keep his arm upright all night long to prevent possible surgery.  So guess who stayed up all night keeping it upright?  Not the 10 year old.  But curiously enough, years later on a trip to Guatemala when we rented dirt bikes to tour the back roads, it was his voice I heard from behind me cautioning me to slow down just 2 seconds before I gripped the wrong brakes and went flying over the handlebars.  Thankfully there were no broken bones this time.  Just a very bruised ego.

Perhaps at 13 the music began for him.  He took free lessons from the leaders of the worship team at church. Guitar, drums, keyboard, he ate it all up.  A woman who has prophetic gifts spoke over him.  "Salmista" (one who worships and writes melodies to God) is what she spoke through the power of the Holy Spirit. Another tucking into my heart.  He lived and  breathed and took much joy in all that was worship before the King of Kings. The music wooed him into a love relationship with Jesus.  Soon he was not only playing in the band but leading worship with others at the service and then leading alone.  There was a definite anointing.  I remember thinking that most moms who have kids of this age are at odds with them over music.  By God's grace, the songs Noe would choose to play ad nauseum on his cell phone were songs I loved.  God spared us the wrath that occurs when music styles clash and the turbulent relationship that often characterizes the teenage years.

But God would test him in a different way during his last years of High School.  The testing came in the form of an illness.  Mine to be exact.  And not just an ordinary illness but a rare incurable one that brought us all to our knees.  The test was in the mind.  God spoke scriptures of healing into our situation so Noe had to learn to choose to believe the promises of life and living, and to reject those of death despite what he could see.  It was not pretty.  My body, deformed, life seeping out of it, while God made noises about it all being for His glory.  Doubts crouched at the door.  What would life without Mom be like?  Would the family which had grown to include other siblings now be broken and torn like the first family he had barely known?  How could God so full of love allow such a thing to a daughter and those under her wings if He truly loved them all?   And then in the prayer times, the times of waiting upon Jesus, he learned to believe for the impossible.   It all caused him to depend upon God not only as a Father but as a Friend who could hold his heart even in the valley of the shadow of death.  While we all awaited the signs of the promised healing, Noe took on the tasks that I could not.  He learned to make a mean spaghetti, washed and hung his siblings clothes, fixed things around the house and just served us all without complaint.  God's grace poured out through a 17 year old servant son.

Noe (center) leading worship with Dani and Eduardo
This affair with melodies sung to Jesus has gripped him hard.  He  has chosen a Bible college called Christ for the Nations.  We are applying now.  Well, actually he is applying now.  I do want him to go.  I really do.  I want him to fly, this precious scar-headed entrepreneur superhero servant son we call Noe.  This beautiful God given boy who came so lonely and ragtaggle, so futureless and scrawny.   Who would have known that he would be used by God to change so many lives... mine.  He has to start trying his wings, but this time, this time it's on the WINGS of another, the realio trulio SuperHero holding his hand.  Of course I want to be there...who is going to call out from behind to tell him to slow down and who will hold his heart upright?  Who will remind him about the things he forgets?

As if that isn't enough, the "enough" questions assault my brain.  Did I do enough?  Did I prepare him well enough?  Did I love him enough?  Did I live out Christ's life well enough before him?

The answer is the same for each question.  Trust JESUS.  The same one who took care of me when my parents let me fly off to college and then off to a foreign land for the rest of my life.  That same SAFE HAVEN will hold my boy when I cannot.  That beautiful Friend who taught him to trust even in the dark days will be with him.  He is ENOUGH.

And so we prepare for flight.  The nest will be different.  We will adjust our weight and move the feathers around a bit, perched and waiting, eyes uplifted watching to see how the soaring goes, trusting in the One who gives flight. I don't think the nest will be empty anytime soon.  There are still so many in the wings, each with their own stories of His healing and glory.  Each with their own time to fly.