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Honduras

Growth Journey Life Missionary Life

Tears are Okay

February 5, 2018

Last year, as many of you know (and were probably tired of hearing) was a hard year. It was a year of a lot of uncomfortable growing and transition. At times it flat out hurt. Too often it felt as though nothing was going right. And tears were cried.

Tears of hurt.

Tears of pain.

Tears of frustration.

Tears of sheer exhaustion.

But those tears did not go unseen. They were not ignored and they were not in vain.

“We cried as we went out to plant our seeds. Now let us celebrate as we bring in the crops.” –Psalm 126:5 CEV

As we pressed into the will of God last year, as we began to lay a foundation for years ahead, those tears were not just tears trailing my face to dry up and serve no purpose. Nope. Those tears were seeds planted into our deep heart desire to serve Christ. And those tears were necessary.

God used the tears.

As January began, a peace fell. Now that peace meant lots of visitors to our home and not much silence. That peace meant tracking up mountains through mud that gathered around our ankles. That peace meant days of Ever and I working in different places to accomplish all that was needed. That peace meant a stretching. But oh that peace, how wonderful it is.

Last week, as my friend and partner who manages SoloHope Stateside, Ashley, was visiting, I told her how I am realizing that last year was necessary. The tears were necessary because they were seeds. And even in just this first month of 2018, we are seeing the fruit of the tears that were sown last year.

Today a new member of our team arrived. As she pulled up, I was so close to tears. She has come from another part of the country leaving behind her home and the vast majority of her possessions to come and serve with us as a teacher in a community we are partnering with. Last month she told us, she had always dreamed of being a missionary. We responded “Well your time has come!”

After years of uncertainty and tears, the Lord is saying to her “I saw your tears. They weren’t in vain. They were seeds. Now celebrate as we bring in the crops!”

Friends, your tears are okay. More than okay. They are not being cried without purpose. They aren’t hidden from your Father God’s sight. They are seeds. Keep pressing on into the will of God. And you will see. Oh, my sweet friends, you will see! You will see the fruit. You will see the harvest. And on that day, if it’s tomorrow or next year or even 10 years from now, you send me a message and let me celebrate with you! Let us celebrate in the goodness of our God!

📸 by Ashley Griffin

Growth Journey Missionary Life

Resting in Home

November 15, 2017

As I write this post, I sit in the middle of a food court surrounded by people who look slightly different than I do all speaking a language that is not my native tongue. But today I don’t feel like a fish out of water but rather someone who is at home.

Most days I am the only pale face in the group. Sometimes I get lots of stares especially in places I’ve never been. It can be a little unnerving. But it can also be hilarious.

Sunday night, as we sat around a table eating fish for our Christmas dinner with the artisans, I realized how at home I felt.

Do you know how beautiful of a feeling that is?

It may be one of the most wonderful feelings in the world—belonging. Knowing right here in this moment right where you are is where you belong. I’ve struggled so long with that. I’m sure I’ll struggle with it again in the future but today I’m resting in this peace of coming home.

Resting in the peace that home looks different for us all. Resting in the fact that for some of us, our moment is in the car pool line. Others in the office. Others in Honduras. But God uses each of our moments. Nothing is lost on Him.

Because there’s a mom in that car pool line that needs to know Jesus and you are the person to share Him, not the person in Honduras. There’s a client on the phone who needs prayer and you are the person to pray, not the mom. There’s a brother who needs a ride to the hospital over mountainous roads and you are the person to give that ride, not the person in the office. Our moments are beautiful. They are each needed and perfect.

They are where we belong because ultimately if we are seeking Him in genuine, we are in the center of His will. We are home.

In a few short hours, we’ll board a plane to the USA where we’ll be for the holidays. It will be a good time. A sweet time with family. But already in my heart of hearts, I know I’ll be ready to come home by the end of it, maybe before.

Because this, Honduras, is home now.

The truth is I’m not sure I would have dreamt this life for myself but our Father knows so much better than we do.

His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways are higher than our own.

Some days we curl up in a ball crying for home but sometimes when morning comes we realize, we’re already there.

We’re already home.

Favorite Things Women

My Favorite Things {Vol. 1}

November 1, 2017

Did you ever watch Sound of Music?

I watched it so many times I’m pretty much banned from watching it again in the Connell Casa. Whenever I’m in the US and ask the family if they want watch Sound of Music, it is always met with a resounding “NO!!!”

But I love the Sound of Music! Julie Andrews can sing a song and I may or may not have acted out the opening scene, with arms stretched out, spinning in circles on top of a green mountain, singing at the top of my lungs “The hills are alive…” (No, I will not film that and post it for all to see. Sorry, not sorry!)

However, I think my favorite song from the movie is “My Favorite Things.” (or “16 Going on 17” or “Something Good.” Okay, okay, I’ve watched the movie too many times.)

So I thought why don’t I share of few of my favorite things with you. When the dog bites, when the bee stings, these things are sure to make you feel better…

  • She Reads Truth Bible. Y’all, this Bible is visually so inviting and beautiful. It includes key verses, reading plans, devotionals, maps and charts and large(r) margins to take notes. The translation is Christian Standard Bible which I’ll be honest, I was not familiar with but I like it. For me, I enjoy reading different translations of the Bible because sometimes I’ll read a verse in one translation and then read it another and it breathes a whole new life into that verse.

  • SoloHope’s Wednesday Specials. Of course, you know I’m all about some SoloHope but I LOVE our new Wednesday Specials that we’re doing. Each Wednesday we’re featuring one of beautiful handcrafted items at heavily discounted price but it’s only for one day so you have to act fast to get the special pricing. This week’s Wednesday Special is earrings–ALL our earrings for just $8! (Reg. $10-12). Can we say stocking stuffers?! Each pair of earrings are handcrafted from pine needles and thread (yes, it’s true!) by our artisan team in Honduras. They are light-weight and beautiful and as our artisans say “Made with lots of love.” That’s definitely a favorite of mine.

  • Fair Trade Friday. Since I love businesses/organizations supporting women and men all over the world to rise above the extreme difficulties they are faced with such as extreme poverty, human trafficking, abuse/neglect, war, I am a big fan of this subscription service. Started by blogger, Kristen Welch, this organization truly cares for the hearts of the people who handcraft the products featured in the Fair Trade Friday Box. They also have an Earring of the Month Club, a Bracelet of the Month Club and have recently introduced a new subscription service called Girl Boss Box. You should check them out. Plus they have been known to feature SoloHope’s products so that’s a win-win!

  • Magnolia Journal. I know I’m not the only person saddened to hear that Joanna & Chip Gaines’s hit HGTV show is coming to end but there are so many other places to still find the Gaines in action–books, Target, and their magazine! Which can I just say I LOVE! It’s a quarterly magazine rich with great articles, decorating times, recipes and so much more. Last quarter (pictured below) even featured an article from Bob Goff so to me, the Gaines have nailed it with this magazine.

  • Gilmore Girls. You’re probably thinking, “wait, you’ve just heard of the Gilmore Girls?! What planet have you been living on??” Well, I had heard of it but honestly just never had the desire to watch it until I began to be left out of conversations or worse when I thought my friends were talking about real-life people and felt totally out of the loop. So I caved and began watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and y’all, I gotta give credit where credit’s due and you guys were right. Gilmore Girls is pretty good. I’m in Season 6 and I believe Loreali and Rory have drank 15,434 cups of coffee thus far, but my count could be off by a couple thousand.


Bonus: The soundtrack of Sound of Music. Need I say more?

So those are some of my favorite things that on the many rainy days we’re having right now in La Esperanza, that serve to brighten my days and then I don’t feel so sad…I get it, enough with the Sound of Music references and song lyrics.

What are some of your favorite things this fall?

Tell me in the comments below.

Current Issues Missionary Life Women

I’m sorry.

October 20, 2017

I’m sorry. Truly I am.

You never should have had to go through what you did today but especially not what you went through on Tuesday.

I’m so so sorry.

My mind has swirled with emotion today. As I sat waiting for you as you spoke to the police, the doctors, the psychologists, I raged with anger and cried with hurt. It’s not right. I have questioned God why He allowed this to happen. And I’ve wished I could turn back time and make it go away. I wish I could say it was the first time I’ve heard this story but it’s not. It is a story that unfortunately is far too common.

I’m sorry that you too now have to say #metoo.

I’m sorry he stole your peace. Thankfully you fought, you kicked, you screamed and you escaped but you felt violated because you were. He tried to take something you didn’t want to give. He waited for you as you walked down the road. He attacked you.

Dear sister, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry it will be so hard now to walk alone without fear.

Today you shook nervously as you recounted the horrible events that took place Tuesday. Tears poured down your face. This asshole trespassed on your soul and you were so visibly shaken. When he ripped your shirt away from you, he might as well have been ripping your heart wide open to bleed.

And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that we live in a world so full of hate and evil. I’m sorry that a man would try to force himself upon you. I’m so sorry that sin has left an evil stain on this world that some refuse to clean with the blood of Jesus. Instead they allow the sickness of their soul to grow into a deep nasty black mark on their hearts that allows them to only see themselves and not the ones they are hurting.

Oh dear sister, I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.

But I’m also proud. Proud of you. You stood up to him today. You quite possibly stopped him from doing this to another woman or child. You spoke up.

Even though it was so hard. You did it.

He tried, my friend. He tried to destroy you but you didn’t let him. I know it will take time until you feel whole again but you will.

You will.

We serve a God who comforts. And draws us close. He didn’t leave you on Tuesday. As you hurt, He hurt. As you felt the world as you knew begin to crumble, He was in the midst of the ruins mourning the loss too. But our God rebuilds. He restores what the enemy tries to steal from us. He will restore you.

Don’t give up, my sister. Rest. Cry. Hurt. But don’t give up.

You are a mighty woman. You are a force to reckoned with. You are strong. And you will rise again from these ruins.

You will rise.

It’s a promise. Not from me but from God our Father.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

 

Friends, I ask for you pray for a dear friend of mine who this week has gone through hell. I wish her story was an isolated one but it is not. As more and more women and men feel empowered through the #metoo movement, to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, support these individuals. Speaking out is not easy.

If you have yourself have experienced sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, know you are not alone. Know it was not your fault. Know you can speak out. Know people will support you. Know you can get help. And know you will rise again. 

Journey Missionary Life

Invited.

October 10, 2017

Roni is the guard of our “gated community.”

Now being a guard entails making the rounds a few times a day on foot, carrying a gun (or a machete) and of course, his most important job, lifting the gate. Yep–up, down, up, down, making life easier for us lazy car drivers.

We’ve gotten to be friends with Roni. He’s a hard worker. He loves his family. And he loves Jesus.

Last week, when we got back from church, we invited him to come join us for supper. It’s become somewhat of a normal thing for us now to invite Roni over to eat when we’re home for a meal and it’s his shift but last Sunday was different.

It was different because Roni shared something with us that left my mouth on the floor.


As we all talked over some yummy barbecue chicken, he told us that we were the only people in the whole “colonial” that invited him to sit at their table to eat.

What?!

I was a little confused and thought maybe I had misunderstood. No one had ever invited Roni into their homes to share a meal? That couldn’t be right. He has worked as a guard here for over two years. But he confirmed it again.

Our home was the only home he had ever been welcomed into to share a meal as a friend, as an equal.

It’s one of the ugly sides of Honduras–classes. Unspoken but they are definitely there.

As we talked on, Roni shared a story he had heard from a pastor in San Pedro Sula. The pastor shared about a rich man who was told the Lord was coming to visit him. The man prepared his home and a yummy meal for his Lord. A sick old man stopped by and asked for something to eat but the rich man said “I’m sorry, I can’t give you anything because I’m waiting for my Lord.” Then a poor child in rags knocked on the rich man’s door and asked for something to eat. The rich man repeated the same, “I’m sorry, I can’t give you anything to eat because I’m waiting for my Lord.” It got later and later and still the Lord had not come to the rich man’s home. He thought perhaps he had confused the hour so he gave his Lord a call. The Lord told him, “I’ve already come by twice and you refused me both times.”

Isn’t that just what the Scriptures teach? That when we serve one of the least of these, we are serving Him. Now I’m not in any way saying Roni is one of the least of these because he’s not but he is my brother and he is welcome at our table.

Do you know the following Sunday after that conversation when we invited Roni and his family to join us at church that they said yes? Even though they haven’t been in church for some time, they still accepted.

We all piled into the car and the back row Sunday, together. #backrowbaptists (But actually there just wasn’t another aisle with enough seats for us all.)

 

All this has got me remembering…

Remembering when I was new to Albany and April Brown invited myself and a couple other girls over to her home for dinner and a movie. She put out such a beautiful spread for us. Her sweet kiddos helped serve us gals. Then her husband walked in from work. He looked at the table and immediately said, “Are those new plates?”

April was mortified. She said “Here I’ve told the kids not to say anything about the new plates in front of our guests and you walk in and that’s the first thing out of your mouth.” It was really quite comical. We assured her it was absolutely fine and we loved the plates.

But what she didn’t know is that night after we left her home, tummies full from yummy lasagna and hearts full from watching Return to Me, we talked about those plates. We talked about how special we felt that she would go out and buy new plates just for us. We felt loved.

And that’s what all this is about, that we can be welcomed to the table and feel love.

The love of Jesus.

The events over the last few weeks have made me realize how much value there is to opening our home and inviting someone over to break bread. How that alone can minister deep down to someone’s soul. It doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor. A security guard or a bank owner. An indigenous Lenca or a university graduate. It doesn’t matter. We are all the same in the Father’s eyes.

We are all made in the image of the Father.

We all have value.

We all feel honored and loved when we are welcomed to the table.

So I want to invite you to the table. I want to invite you to share in this blessing of welcoming others to the table. I want to invite you to be a part of the work here in Honduras. Sometimes that work is just cooking a meal and inviting a family over to share it with us. But I want to invite you to be a part of that. You may not physically be able to sit at the table with us here in Honduras but you can through your prayers and support. You can through your financial donations.

We’ve got some special things up our sleeves for our financial donors coming soon. (Hint: ornament!) But most importantly we want to invite you to be a part of what is happening here on the ground in Honduras. We want to give you the opportunity to sow seeds and reap the blessings that comes with inviting others to the table.

You are invited to join us in this work. You are invited to the table.

Will join us?

Donate online at solohope.org/pages/donate.