Monday, June 29, 2009


Molly and I had an amazing trip.
I haven't unpacked it all yet, spiritually, emotionally or physically (my suitcase) yet. :-) I told a friend today I want to keep the warmth going here at home.
The time spent with Molly, watching her connect with kids there, is something I will always remember. She has a tremendous capacity for love and affection and I cannot wait to see what she and God do with it. Thanks for your prayers.

24 June 2009 - Helene

Church here, reminds me so much of my home church as a child. You are encouraged to share your testimony, a song or some Scripture during the service. Tonight Molly and I shared the following with the island and our team at the midweek service.
Hello church, I am Janet and this is my daughter Molly.
I want to thank your church and the island for our experiences here the past two weeks.
One of the things which stands out to me about our time here is that every time we asked one of our guides or an islander during visitation what we could pray for, they asked us to pray for their unsaved family members. This was the first thing they would mention consistently.

This reminded me of my father who passed away a year ago this week. Tonight Molly and I stand and share together with you as a testimony to his legacy of faith. He fought cancer for over 10 years and when his health got to the point where he had to make a decision between “quantity” of life and “quality” of life he chose quality. I believe he did this because he had lived a full life and knew that all his children and grandchildren knew God as their Savior.

I remember the conversation where we discussed this decision and I asked him maybe for just a little more “quantity” he responded immediately with this. (molly read)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

Even though he never traveled to another country to do missions work, he and my mother have faithfully supported mission work around the world and I have felt his presence here so many times on the island, in the way our worship is similar, the humming birds at the clinic and mostly because he was like so many of you, a man and father of faith who served and loved his God, his family, his church and community.

So I want to thank you for your hospitality and witness to us as it has been so good to be here with you all. In closing I want to share some Scripture with this church. In my quiet time on the island I have been reading Paul’s letters to the churches he loved and this one reminded me of this church, which we now love.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God's churches we [will] boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. [our] God is just: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-6a.

This is likely my last post from the island. Thursday morning is our last day of service projects, then this afternoon we will have market day, watch the final basketball game in the tourney between two island teams, of course J and then begin our goodbyes. Friday morning at 9am we travel to Roatan for a day there before our Saturday flight home.

I look forward to seeing many of you in church Sunday, with my farmers tan and bug bites. Thank you for your prayers while we have been away. Much love, J

23 June 2009

Last night Scott and Allie led us through an amazing night of celebrating the good and life.
Scott led off by sharing the story of the impact that Scott Resnick had had on his life, and through the celebration of his life at the memorial service. He challenged the kids, well, all of us to be intentional with our lives. To set goals. To trust God. To decide what we will do and what we wont do the rest of this week, this summer, the next year and in our lives. It was a powerful time.

Then, we circled up and did affirmations for half of the group. It gave us the chance to encourage one another in the growth that we have seen this trip and in the relationships which have formed. Lots of tears and laughter.

On the path today Molly and I talked about why we are crying so much... she didn't expect it. I did. Our hearts are tender and open here because of the work we are doing, the time spent in relationship with God and with one another and the lack of distraction of real life demands and pressures.

To my friends who have been here and knew this is what we would find, I thank you for letting it be a suprise. To the rest of you. You must find this kind of journey in your own life.

We are hiking to the cross now...

22 June 2009

Today we got to choose what service projects we would do for the next two days. The selections were things which we all did last week. I chose to do visitations with Miss Elsa and Mr Jerry and Kids Club on the island. I'm beginning to love the pastoring part of visitations and spending time with our guides. I am not a teacher of small children. This is for sure. Though i do lead a mean game of "Simon Says"

I'm off now to purchase a grape soda for 15 - 20 lempira depending on the store which is open, and then to see the first game of an island basketball tournament. Our gringo team is playing an island team. The 5 best players from the island have been beating us all week, so they have each fielded a team for this week long tournament. That impressed me, that the love of the game, outweighs the need to stack their teams. But rest assured... in the end, the island always wins.

And... today has a glimpse of a dark cloud- we are beginning to count the days until we leave this place and we are sad and worried about the moment we pull away from the dock with the children we have come to love waving goodbye. My prayer is that the emotion of that day, will cement so many of the lessons we have learned, but it will be a wet boat ride out on Friday, that is for sure.

21 June 2009

A quick update before a shower and bed.
Today we went to church at the Northside church and Mister Larry taught the message. The singing was like singing the sacred harp. Mostly women though. I will never forget singing harmony with the island woman next to me on Amazing Grace.

This afternoon we took a jungle hike. A real. jungle. hike.
I determined i would try everything here once- so i went somewhat reluctantly.
It was truly amazing so see the immensity of God's creation in this way. Unreal.
I was also reminded of the value of intentionality i.e. Disney like tour guide training, which our guides have not received. It was truly an adventure and I'm glad I went. (note- Angel, pictured here, did the hike barefoot)

Now... the team is watching Pirates of the Carribean which looks like it was filmed here. So, watching it with the island kids in the center of the jungle is something I will not soon forget.
Dreaming of captain jack sparrow.... night all.

20 June 2009

I snorkel, therefore I am…
Oh and we saw dolpins too…

This was all I was going to write.

But, there is so much more.
Last night we had care groups and as the girls talked I began to unpack some of what is going on in me here. What God is teaching me about priorities through the richness we’ve found here on the island.

The beauty of the way they value relationships. Always a greeting on the path, a smile and they seem to crave a conversation about where they are going today, what’s for dinner, how they “are” and if they are believers, how God is good. So often at home, I am busy- multi-task my way through a conversation, fail to be present.

The next is still not worked out. Thursday night we hosted the Youth Praise service. Our kids were in charge, but we needed help from some island musicians. Three men, rehearsed with our vocals, played for the service, they were wonderful. I asked Allie if we could take the offering and give the earnings to these men for their instruments or their church. I felt like I wanted to GIVE THEM SOME MONEY and Allie’s response was that the service itself, the opportunity for them to worship with their gifts, to work with our team, was enough. I also find myself wanting to slip Miss Elsa, the grandmother who takes us all on visitations to the sick/needy, a $20. As if MONEY is the answer to their need. Again, she is ministering to her island and with other believers and that is enough.

The lyrics of this song have been swirling ever since our conversations.

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

Youre my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
Youre the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me

19 June 2009 - Helene

Is it Friday? Wow. In so many ways it seems like we have lived a lifetime here already. The islanders around the mission have been so welcoming, we feel like we know many of them and are part of this place.

This morning we did (w)visitiations (they don’t pronounce the v) and invited the kids on the island to our VBS camps. We got to walk to new parts of the island which I hadn’t visited before. One is the pond. It is the grimmest place. It’s hard to find words for how deeply grim the physical reality of their living situation is. Just when I had begun to think maybe this was enough for one lifetime, I realized again how much we take for granted in the states. The woman, Marina, whose house floor we put in, lives there now. It feels good to know that we have helped her and the 7 who will live with her move up and out of the Pond.

This afternoon a large group of us headed to the Northside to snorkel. I am physically exhausted and pretty much speechless about the wonder of seeing what is in the ocean. Being a water lover… well, I have no words.

Tonight we are doing the youth praise service. Our kids are ready and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it comes together.

I know I will sleep well tonight!

18 June 2009

Last nights church service was… memorable, but it’s a story to tell in person. For now, know that island style worship is wonderful. In many ways it reminds me of the Chapel I grew up in where men would share their testimonies at the breaking of bread service each Sunday morning, but with a calypso beat.

Today our team did Clean Sweep on the island. There’s no garbage service on the island and the habit is to throw your trash, well rather to drop it, where you are. This is a pretty nasty task made more pleasant by our guide (nickname) “bye bye” who is full of stories and love for the island and it’s people. He also hooked us up with sugar cane and our first cold beverages since arriving. Pepsi and banana pop. So SWEET and yummy.

We began to talk today about things we miss. Surprisingly to me, I don’t miss my ipod. Occasionally there’s music around us but most of the time we enjoy the sounds of the island; we have the ocean and the breeze, the sound of the kids playing on the porch, people greeting one another on the path and nothing. Molly and I miss family- we think Cub would thrive here because it’s camp on steroids and Abby would not enjoy the heat. Mike would be SO useful because he’s good at the things Molly and I are having to learn as we go.

The afternoon is wrapping up island style, a swim from the dock, an islanders/gringo basketball game, the announcement that we wont be leading Youth Praise tonight because the elders need the church building, so how about game night instead? And church tomorrow night. Sounds Cool Mon’

17 June 2009

This morning our team led devos in the morning and then headed back to the Habitat house. It was SO very exciting to see the progress other teams had made and to work today and nearly finish the whole floor.

Honestly, today I’ve been learning to relax and take it easy- even when you work. The heat and humidity here are tough. It’s very common it seems, for people to take turns, to take breaks, to watch others work while you rest. Before the trip I was honestly concerned about how our team would do with varying degrees of energy/work ethic etc. But I’m learning… life isn’t just about getting a task done. I know. That’s enough disclosure for today.

I’m excited to be working with a team of students to program and produce a Young People’s service tomorrow. And, tonight we’ll attend a midweek service at the Pentecostal church near us. I’m very excited for worship tonight and to see how the students react. We’ve been encouraged to share a testimony, so have spent the day thinking about what all of ours might be. Everyone has one… even you! What would you share?

16 June 2009 - Helene

Today was really about more integration with the islanders. We are learning names and they are learning ours. It’s nice to be remembered. One of them, Stef (pictured with Kait and I) gives everyone nicknames. He calls Mark “slim” Tyler “big man” Kait “small eyes” Kelly “Cinderella’ and me… well he called me “fat girl” J which I then shared was not an ok word for whities and so he changed it to green eyes. I think the sun was affecting him. J

Today our Green team ran sports camps. In the morning, we walked along the path through the villages and Ewings, our guide, and quite possible the coolest person any of us have ever met, would shout out to everyone he saw on the street and in to houses that we were playing soccer at the sand lot soon. 3 of our kids are soccer players. 1 boy and I are not soccer players. I dated soccer players- but that doesn’t really count, now does it?
The girls hung in for a while, but this was a man’s game. Mark Franklin played the whole time, with a grin on his face. He was in his element.
After lunch we went back out for more sports camps and this time around it was basketball. Again, Mark shined. Kait and I hung out with a couple of little kids most of the afternoon. We had some great discussions with people here today- about their lives, the differences, even why we do so much of what we do.

This morning Larry, the mission director asked us to really consider/challenge our culture while we are here. The kids and I are beginning these conversations… what we live for, how we define success. Would love your prayers as I navigate these conversations as a adult friend vs. a “mom” and today I saw Tyler really taking some time with one of the young men on the island. Pray for him too as he shares his faith and encourages this young man.

June 15 2009 Helene

So hard to know where to start today… it’s our first full day here.
I woke up well rested and sweating already and in Honduras. Wow.
Today felt a little like Survivor.
My team of kids was paired with another team and our morning job was to haul construction materials through the jungle path to a house where we would begin installing a floor in a new home.
Our guide is an island teen named Hormand. A way down the road we encountered a challenge. The path is washed out in a deep ravine and there are two logs stretched across, so we had to figure out how to get all the lumber, a ladder and a wheelbarrow full of tools across. The kids problem solved, worked together and got most of the stuff across before David, The Alternative Missions construction project manager found us and said, “Hormand, why did you go THIS way??” and off he and I went with the wheelbarrow along a path with slightly less challenges.
After lunch we tore down a wall in a bunk house so that it could be converted to a classroom.
Amidst iguanas and swimming off the pier and meeting too many people to remember names today, the thing which sticks out for me is a better understanding of the Christian buzzword “missional.” Everything here is missional. Completing tasks is missional. Being warm and friendly and genuinely interested in people is missional. Telling your own story is missional. Throwing a game night for the islanders is missional. So, I am off now to lose big, i imagine, at dominoes with the islanders.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

14 June 2009 Helene

It’s been 20 hours since we arrived at PDX for our trip to Helene, Honduras.
I didn’t bring my photo card reader, so may not have pics until we return home- so sad.
With grad night overnight Saturday and traveling all day I am having some trouble putting thoughts together.
Here are a few.

Our leaders, Allie and Scott Roth really have done a beautiful job of preparing us for the trip. There have been no unsettling surprises yet- though we did have an interesting landing in Helene. All’s well that ends well. And, it's been amazing to see our team leader, Allie, interacting with kids she has built relationship with over 5 trips here.

Many of our kids arrived tired … but I have witnessed such an honest caring and knowing between them already.

It feels like we have eaten all day. In Houston (4am Portland time) on the plane from Houston to Helene, first stop in Helene Bojangles chicken (SO good!) then to Helene via windy road nice bus and boat ride and a huge spaghetti dinner.

Some of the team left after dinner tonight to walk to the North side church on the island to attend a revival. It was difficult to stay behind but I’ve had about 4 hours sleep in 2 nights, so am pacing myself for what is to come the next couple of weeks.

I’ve been able to have some conversations with a few of the kids today- getting to know them better. This is very exciting to me. I am being deliberate about where I sit and what I say and am committed to coming home knowing them better, and to them knowing another adult cares about them, uniquely.

The water… is beautiful and warm and there are coral reefs and I cannot wait to swim tomorrow.

It is interesting to see how much of ministry, everywhere, is really about the complexity of people and how we much things up when left to our own devices. I am enjoying hearing the stories from the Alternative Missions team here- there is a commonality to what we have to do, while we are doing what we are called to do.

It's 9pm here, the kids are wrapping up playing with the island kids- they are wicked at Uno... this is an amazing place to be- we have much to learn about God, his design and ourselves.

Had to make the difficult decision of staying home tonight, rather than walking through the jungle to a revival meeting. Several people DID go and I look forward to hearing their stories tomorrow. I am just too in need of beauty sleep- so will put everyone to bed now and prepare for tomorrow. time to hang nets, look for stars through tropical rain.
Much love friends and family- we covet your prayers for safety, for growth and for impact. J

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Molly's Graduation

She did it! Last night was Molly's graduation from Westview.
Two thoughts.
What a strange tradition... in a world where there are few. The gowns, the hats, walking, the whole bit. Felt a little like the Twilight Zone.

Molly's plans... She has decided not to go away to a University this fall and to spend some time exploring what she's interested in (which is not collegiate academics) and I could not be MORE excited for her. I have always admired her strength and she is being consistent in not taking the path of most her friends and finding her own way.
So unbelievably excited, and of course, it doesn't hurt to know she'll be closer to home, for a least a little while longer!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

my estate

"My friends (and family) are my estate."
- Emily Dickinson
So… let’s face it, I am a doer…

I believe that something “magical” happens when people figure out what God designed them to do, and they do it.
I’m not really a dreamer… I prefer this role, “when you all have a plan tell me and I’ll figure out how to make it happen."
I’m not the girl who has unlocked the value of silence and solitude. Puhleez.
I think God likes me more when I’m serving. I realize this is stupid and me and Barb Feil are working this one out.
I’m not funny on demand.
Or the friend you call when you just need someone to talk to because I am a verbal processor (prefer this to interrupter).
But… in my life recently there are few friends who God is using to round me out, to teach me the value of presence.
This is a good thing.

Except I leave day after tomorrow for two weeks and I am really struggling to resolve how I am going to be away from them, those pictured and others.
I really don’t like the thought of not BEing with them.
This is new for me.
I have lived a life of shallow and transient relationships, but the older I get and the older my children are, I am changing.
Thank God.
Even when it hurts.
If I was still in DO mode I could have things lined up, people in place, stuff surrounding them to hold them up, money left for meals and emergencies and have felt good about going.
But that is no longer the case.
Even as I look forward to the next two weeks, I am heavy hearted to be going- to be leaving my estate.