Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Not even crayons

I must have looked at our paperwork a dozen times over the last few days.  Piles and piles of papers and checklists and pictures and passports.  Even once we were in the capital city I pulled out the file a few times, just to make sure the passports hadn't dissapeared!  It is so nerve-wracking to think that because of one missing paper this whole process could stall out again or put us off for months.

Before we went into the embassy we just prayed as a family that whatever God wanted for us would be clear and that we would be at peace with His will for us.  A hard thing to pray when you are planning and counting on a certain response.  But I loved knowing that my kids are learning to put things in God's hands and to trust His answer.  And they kept praying while we were inside, although I didn't know it until later.  Angel said every time he felt nervous, he prayed again for God to do what was best for us as a family.

And we sat.  And we waited.  From 6:30am until they finally called our name at 10:00, we waited.  They confiscated our crayons and coloring book designed to keep kids sane and the snack machine only accepted small bills, which I didn't really have.  So the kids split one small bag of chips for breakfast and we waited.

They accepted all of our paperwork, and I breathed a deep sigh of relief!  We weren't missing anything!  In fact, we had more than we needed.  The man was really kind and patient and helped make it less stressful.  Once the papers were gathered he sent us back to our seats... to wait again.

Then we went in to the interview.  All of us were nervous as we entered that room and waited as he asked a few questions and typed things into the computer.  And then we heard the words, your residency is approved!!!!!!!!!!!  There are no words for the relief that I felt and the joy that I saw in the kids' faces.  As we left the room they were literally jumping up and down!

Andres thought we were going on a plane yesterday and was dissapointed at every stop on the 7 hour drive home that we weren't at the airport.  No amount of explaining can help him understand that we have things to do before we can leave.  The kid is just ready to fly!

But there were also some tears and saddness for all of us as the reality set in that goodbyes are near and we will soon be leaving the place that we call home.  Its incredible how one can feel such joy and sadness all at the same time.  But we know now with clarity that this is the journey that God is taking our family on and He is the one who goes before us and holds us in His hands.    My theme verse for when I moved to Honduras will become my theme as we move our family to NC.

He is before all things and in His all things hold together!  Colossians 1:17

Friday, September 22, 2017

What we leave behind

The United States is easily depicted as the grass being greener on the othe side by so many here in Honduras.  And the truth is, it is a world of opportunity.  I don't like that people go illegally to the states, but after living here, I get it.  There are people who I have met who know that they are working themselves sick and barely providing for their children while their children could have clean running water,  three meals a day, and clothes to wear even if they are caught while crossing over the border and put into a home.  At some point, meeting the very most basic of your childrens' needs drives you to desperation.  Others go for other reasons, but for the sake of this blog, lets just focus on the fact that the majority of families that I know have some outside support coming in from family who has made it to the States or somewhere in Europe and they make money and send it back.  Makes it easy to see why the United States is thought of as the promised land.  Money made in the states pays for many a Honduran child to go to school, families to eat, and children to be clothed and have a place to live.

As I process going to live in the US however, I have a little bit of a different point of view.  I love my country, don't get me wrong, and I am proud to be an American.  I don't agree with everything and the way that it is done, but I am thankful for the roots that God gave me.  At the same time, I am so thankful for the time that I have had to live elsewhere.  American culture is missing some really rich things that I have found in the Latino culture here in Honduras.  Some are things that I adjusted to easily because I felt like they were already part of me, and some of them I accepted kicking and screaming and now can't believe that I will leave them behind.

I want to be careful that as a family we don't lose some of the valuable lessons that this culture has taught us as we head back to the more focused, hurried culture of the US.

Hospitality.  The people here get it right.  I cannot tell you the number of homes that I have been invited into and the meals that I have eaten from someone else's table.  And you know with every bite that it is a joy for them for you to be there.  And no one cares that there are 7 people in your family, or that you were really just stopping by for a second or that they didn't have time to clean up.  We are about people and relationships.  Even on the day before pay day when there isn't any money, we can all sit around and drink a soda and chat for awhile.  So come on in.  This feels right and natural to me.  We have had more people live with us, stay a few days, sleep on the couch, eat at our table, borrow some clothes and stay an extra day, then I can even count.  I am not an excellent housekeeper, come on, I have 5 children.  But to be hospitable, I don't have to be.  I don't have to keep extra food around or worry that I haven't made enough when extra people stop by.  So everyone has a tiny portion instead of a normal portion, no big deal.  Or you make some scrambled eggs.  No one cares.  Its about being in each other's living space and living together.  And because most people don't have private transportation, if it gets late, they stay.  And there is nothing weird about that.  And I may wake up and find them in my kitchen making tortillas or sweeping the floor.  And then I beg them to never leave :)  Just kidding.  But really, I don't want to lose the ability to just have people come into our life and join  our crazy.  I am thankful that this was modeled to me as a child although it is not normal American life.  I come from a long line of women who love to have people in and feed them, probably one reason it seemed so easy!

Waiting.  Growing up in the US I didn't learn how to wait.  Especially now with so many things automated, I feel like there isn't a huge need to learn how to just be and wait and do nothing.  Here there are so many places to practice!  And people rarely seem frustrated about it.  Yes, waiting in traffic is aparently the exception and the horns going off prove that.  But go into a bank where you have to have your phone turned off and people will wait standing in line for over an hour just being.  Kids learn from a young age that waiting and sitting or standing for long periods of time is just part of life.  I'm still not great at it and I certainly don't like it, but I feel like I have gained an essential life skill of just patiently waiting and being because you certainly can't do anything to make it faster.  My friends laughed because after just a few months of living in Latin America, I was home for a friend's wedding and didn't even notice that the pastor was an hour late to the rehearsal.  Waiting was already habit!

Family.  We leave a lot of family behind.  And a really close-knit community of family.  Lesther grew up hearing that you siblings or who you have in life, depend on them, lean on them, use them, and expect that they will need you as well.  They do things in a group.  When one wants to buy a car, everyone pitches in because they know that is the car taking them to the hospital at one in the morning when they have an emergency.  When someone is sick, they all work to make the money to pay for the hospital and medication.  They are each other's childcare system.  Between Lesther mom and sisters there is almost always someone who is home and can care for my kids, even at the last minute.  And they don't call asking when I'll be back... if it gets late they just assume the kids are staying and the bathe them and put them to bed.  I want to instill this in my kids, but it will harder to do when we don't live here.  You are each other's best allies in life.  Be good examples for each other.  Take each other's side and stand up for one another.  Support each other and point each other to Jesus in everything.  And be there for each other whatever it takes.

Food.  I crave chick-fil-a and a good steak pretty much all the time.  But Hondurans put on a good spread.  And they also know how to work with a budget and serve yummy food for cheap.  I love that I can take my whole family out to dinner for $15. And I love that I can take my inlaws dinner by picking up tortillas and cheese on the way to their house.  Or I can have people over and serve tortillas and eggs and that is a totally acceptable dinner.  I'm doing my best to learn our favorite recipes, but I don't make them like a Honduran grandma does, that's for sure.  And oh how I will miss fresh fruit from a roadside stand or being able to buy all manner of things by sticking my head out the car window.  True story, I was in line for medicine at the pharmacy drive through when I realized the store next store has a drive through window right next to me and they sell cheese.  Well, I need cheese, how convenient!  I regularly by my kids bananas from the side of the road for snack if we are out longer than planned.  And the avacados and mangoes... so good!

There are so many more... may have to be another post :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Awkward

I've decided to pull the blog out again for a time to process this time of transition in our life.  I had forgotten just how theurapeutic writing is for me. :)

Bring on the awkward.  I have no idea how to prepare my children for how awkward it will be to enter into life in the US.  From a broad standpoint, the cultures just aren't that different.  Sure, it is a different language, but my kids speak English and have been in bilingual school.  They have learned to eat some American foods and have had their share of Burger King and Pizza Hut and the other random fast food chains that the US has sent to Honduras.  We know most of the popular music and have seen most recent movies.  So, you know, not a hard transition, right?  Wrong.  I'm worried about it and I lived the first 27 years of my life there.

When we walk into a room, my children will likely kiss you on the cheek.  All of you.  Whoever you happen to be :)  It doesn't matter if you're mid-conversation or didn't say hello to them.  They have spent the last however many years of their lives being reprimanded for not giving a proper greeting, and interrupting to make sure you greet everyone is part of that.  The value is placed on the newcomer being welcomed and the newcomer greeting.  The value is not on your conversation that you were having and whether you wanted to finish it or not.  So, if we are rude, excuse us.  We were only being polite!

And about productivity (this one was the hardest for me until I learned to love it)... In general, we are coming from a culture that values people over tasks.  What?!?  Not get all my things done in a day?  Or sometimes not do any of them at all.  Why are we late, constantly?  Well... that conversation went long, or I ran into someone and gave them a ride home, or I dropped everything to run to see a friend in need, etc.  Part of the lack of productivity in my daily life comes from poor systems in place and that I am more than ready to bid farewell (enter any governement transaction).  But the far greater reason for things not going according to plan is because people are far more important than whatever I needed to get done.  And you know what?  I like it.  I like it because I think it is actually true.  So when we're late it could be because someone pooped on the way out the door (which also happens), or maybe we're just taking a minute for people.

I can't even begin to imagine how often we are going to collectively speak to a salesperson or cashier in the wrong language.  And it is likely we will have little Spanish words intertwined in all of our English conversations because Spanglish is our jam in this house.  So when you don't understand what a cola is, it's a rubberband, not a coke.  And our grammer is all screwed up because even when we can get whole sentences out in English is comes out something like "The dog of Papi took a fart".  Direct translation going strong.  We'll adjust, but it could be awkward 'till we do!

No personal space.  My children don't even know what that is.  We all stand way to close to people and talk too close to your face.  Crowding you in line at the grocery store or at the check out counter is a given because if I don't, I will never get out of this place.  If I give an inch, someone else is sure to squeeze in there and I will be here forever.

I remember as a child that we had some Latino neighbors that lived in front of our house.  On Saturdays they had this weird custom of bringing their furniture outside and playing loud music and just hanging out outside all day long.  I used to think it was so weird.  Now that is my family.  Now granted, we may be living it up in the central AC and never set food out the door... hard to say :)

There are so many more...  I just know there will be all kinds of mixups and mistakes and cultural learning and relearning to do.  We hope to see it as an adventure, but there are days that it is sure to make us sad.  Be patient with us because we are going to have to change, but not forget because this is home too.  Remember we're third culture people now and we'll always live in the middle!

Monday, September 18, 2017


When I was pregnant with the twins, I spent a lot of time at second hand stores buying them clothes of all sizes.  Then I would sit in their soon-to-be room and fold clothes and sort clothes while praying for what our family future held and what these two little ones would bring to our life.  I imagined what their personalities would be and what they would enjoy.  Each outfit brought another soft fabric that they would wear while I rocked them to sleep or snuggled them for naptime.  I used their clothes to process the huge life change that they would bring to our family.  And what a wonderful change it has been.

I'm doing it again.  Not awaiting the arrival of a new little one, but awaiting a huge life change.  We are potentially weeks away from moving our family of 7 to the United States.  A week from today we will enter the long-awaited interview that decides where we will be living a month from now.  After a year and a half of waiting, we are so ready to not live in this limbo anymore.

During this change I've been back to the thrift stores and the clothes buying.  One, because it is surprisingly cost-efficient to clothe my family in winter clothes from a country where we sweat year round.  Do you know that no one wants to buy a winter coat here?  Even name brand ones with the tags still on them?  No shocker.  But it means I can get them for $3 :)  That makes it worth the extra suitcase!  And two, becuase I'm nesting, I'm processing.  Somehow in clothes buying I get to imagine what each of my family members' lives will be like through this change.  I get to pray for the friends that they will make, the Sunday school class they will be in, the ways that they will grow and change.  And I get to pray for the tears that they will cry that have already started as they think about saying goodbye.

So many unknowns await us and we have no idea what this new season will bring.  We trust and cling to the fact that God's hand is in this and has been from the beginning.  We believe He has called us to this life change and He is the one who has opened doors up to now.  We have seen His hand in the timing, although we've been in Honduras months longer than we thought.  I've gotten to homeschool and spend some much needed time with my kids being mom.  I've watched them grow together and learn to better love and support each other.  Eliana me yesterday that she doesn't like it like it when all of her brothers and sisters aren't home.  "I happy Mami, my family best friends"  is what she told me when Nicolle walked in the door after being gone all day.  So we trust that this time has been good for us.

In the midst of trusting and waiting, we are also apprehensive.  We are walking into something that is all new for us.  A new culture that, although it was mine for a long time, is not really mine anymore.  And it has never been my family's culture.  We have lots of conversations about what things will be like, but that doesn't mean that we won't all do the wrong thing... about a thousand times.  But that's for another post.

For now we wait, and trust, and try to make it through this one last week of unknowns.  This week we dream and pray and imagine what God has in store for us.

Friday, January 27, 2017

January Newsletter

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Monday, December 12, 2016


Something that the girls and I both love is when they get to teach me something new!

How did I get to be 33 years old and I don´t know how to cut up a whole chicken correctly?  Saturday afternoon our house mom had an obligation and the girls came over here to our house for a little while.  K taught me to cut up a whole chicken into beautiful pieces and then make the most delicious fried chicken ever!  They watched Elf and helped me with my weekly meal planning/cooking session and left me freshly made corn tortillas for dinner.

I want to be a thousand times more humble than I am.  I want to be a learner and receive help well and have lots more days like Saturday.  But its hard and my pride gets in the way.  Its something that I see in myself that helps me to understand where the girls are coming from in a lot of ways.

They don't come from good backgrounds, don't have good habits, don't know everything about , keeping a house, being a mom, going to school, having a good interview, etc.  But its hard to learn new things and be humble and accept that you've learned a lot of things wrong in your life and now you have to relearn them.  And it takes a long time and a lot of new experiences to be able to accept that.  You have to see new examples and see people doing things a different way to want to change.

But it happens... slowly but surely, it happens.

These past few weeks have been really good with our youngest, C.  She has her moments, but overall, we are seeing BIG changes in her!  She has come up with goals for herself and is working hard to meet them.  She is talking more freely about her family and her past and what she desires for a future relationship with them.  She is working hard on her relationship with her daughter.  I'm just proud of her.  She has been with us a little over a year and its taken this long for her to realize that she wants a different future and that it is worth the hard work.  That's learning!

God is so good to let me be on the front lines to watch these girls learn and change and see the same things happening in me.

Friday, December 9, 2016


I have often taught Bible studies that touch on the theme of faith.  Time after time I have used the example of a chair to get the point across.  I can say from across the room that I trust that the chair will hold me or that I have faith in the strength of the chair... but real faith is exercised when I actually walk across the room and sit down in said chair.  That is putting my faith into action... and that is where I find myself this week.

The last two months have been some of the most stretching of my life.  I have struggled with real anxiety and fear and I've been having a hard time just sitting down in the chair and letting what I know about the Lord actually take root in my heart.  I know that He is good.  I know that He is a provider.  I know that He has proven Himself faithful time and time again.  And yet... I still find it hard to trust... why is that?

Did you know that PDE hasn't been fully funded ever in the last nearly 5 years?!?  If you take a look at our monthly budget and monthly giving we should have closed down a long time ago.  And yet... God has always provided.  No one has ever gone hungry and we've always paid the electric bill and our employees.  And God has used that to keep the house open and we have seen many come to know Him as a result.  But from a worldly point of view, it just doesn't make sense.

And PDE support is my missionary support which means that when PDE isn't fully funded, I'm not fully funded.  And that, my friends, is a scary place to sit when we're talking about your own family and your kids and putting food on the table.  To be quite honest, I'm looking forward to in the next stage of life not living off of support!  It has been good for me, and stretching, unpleasant at times, and some days surprisingly joyful but I'm not going to miss it :)

And then there is our paperwork, visas, green cards, waiting on the government... a whole lot of things that are hard to time.  And at the same time I want to be faithful and leave well and leave PDE taken care of when we leave.  So I'm anxious about the timing and anxious that I will work myself out of a job before our paperwork is ready for us to move.  As you may imagine, tinking about moving a family of 7 overseas has a lot of details that comes with it... and oh the culture shock that is sure to unsue!

So this is a stage of a lot of waiting and trusting and asking the Lord for peace of heart.  And I'm not always doing a good job of sitting in the chair and exercising my faith.  Can you pray with and for me that I will trust the Lord's provision?  For the ministry, for my family, for this time of transition...

Colossians 1:17 was my theme verse about the time that I moved to Costa Rica and then Honduras and its one that I will clinging too strongly over the next 6-8 months as well!

And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. - Colosians 1:17