Last week my BFF (Best Friend Forever) from High School called me. I haven’t heard from her in about a year and a half and haven’t seen her since 1995. It was so great to hear her! What is it with friendships like that? You can go for years without connecting and then suddenly you hear their voice and I instantly have memories of:
Driving way too fast in the firebird….
Leaving Greg in a tree…. (you’ll have to ask… it’s pretty funny)
The Nisswa Roller Rink every Friday night
Our made up dance to Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ (we were SOOOO COOL!)
The same stick of gum we put in every letter when I moved to Bemidji and she lived in Brainerd (I don’t even know how that started)
jumping in South Long Lake one week after the ice went off (kids, don’t try that at home)
Staying at each others houses and laughing until 4:00 a.m.
Watching Michael Jackson’s Thriller on MTV over and over and over and over…
spitting pop all over the Game of Life board when she tossed play money at me and called me “peasant”.
It’s like Traci (the BFF) said, “It doesn’t matter that here we are in our 40’s… we get on the phone and we are 16 again… laughing and sharing, remembering the times we had together like it was yesterday.
So my Thursday Thumbs Up is to old friends (and by old – I mean long term… not age). They knew you when…. and it is kind of fun to have people like that around… because sometimes we forget who we were and it is good to have the reality check.
Thanks Friend! I look forward to many more great conversations!
The Honduras Journal and pictures are three blog posts below
- ** For those of you looking for the Honduras Journal – it is two blogs below….
- Al came home from the auctions on Saturday! Between Honduras and his trip, we haven’t seen each other in three weeks! Good to have him home.
- My BFF from High School called me this last week! It has been about a year and a half since I heard from her so it was so great to catch up with her! I’ll probably blog more on this later this week.
- I have Honduras Head. I go through this every year where I keep thinking about those kids, dreaming about them…
- The new TJN Offices are under way! They made incredible progress and I am actually getting excited about the new space and the move.
- I am now a LOST addict. I finished season One and am now working my way through season two….. I am waiting for Al to catch up.
- It is good to be back!
Today, I was reading a good friend of mines Blog: Picking Daisies. She was writing about Masks, and I laughed out loud because I totally agree with the “perfect Christian Mask” that many people in church environments wear.
I have thought about this often – how I grew up and where my faith was. I thought that “doing church” was the right thing to do. Growing up we made it on Easter and Christmas… in my Jr High and High School years, not even those holidays stuck.
By the time I had children, I knew I wanted them to have a Church and religion, but even I didn’t really know what that meant and had no idea that I craved a relationship with God. My background of church and religion was more what I thought we were meant to do, and therefore as good citizens that is what we would do. I could compare my Church experience during my early married years as punching a time clock. We would go in on Sunday, sit in our regular spot… notice who else was there (and who wasn’t)… do our hour and 15 minutes, clock out and go home. If my boys wanted to wear jeans to church it was a big Sunday morning argument of how you should look when entering a church and I would not allow anything less. For a few years there we had a pretty good looking church attendance record. We never did anything beyond the Sunday service. I knew nothing of missions, or serving, there was no service that spoke to me. I was just doing my time.
It took many years of church hopping, and a few years of deciding the church we needed didn’t exist so we stopped all together, before we found the fit that has us where we are today. I didn’t know church could be so real…. and a relationship with God – what was that about?
Today I look back on the “church person” I used to be. I honestly don’t even think I was. It wasn’t until God found me about 7 years ago and wouldn’t let go that I believe is when I really got it. Really – got it. Listening to sermons that I could fit into my own life and relate to…. unheard of! Yet, I was hearing them and learning. Going home, and listening to them again.
I feel sad for those who thing it is what you wear, or hiding who you are behind closed doors, or as Joelle said, masks. I am no where near the perfect Christian example. I fall… frequently…. in most cases – daily. I don’t pray enough, read my Bible enough, spend time in devotion enough… there are times when God takes a back burner to my agenda and man, I really hate that.
But I know that God loves me, broken, and dusty, drinking coffee in church and wearing jeans… and I strive to be more through Him.
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We flew out of Minneapolis the morning of January 31st. There were 11 of us: Tim Lake, Al Steiff, Karol Kruse, Kacee Kruse, Trish Sullivan, Scott and Austin Vansteenwik, Bret Jevning, Lance Mudgett, Justin DeChantal and myself.
Our plane was probably the smallest plane I have ever been on since the two seater I was in when my mom and I went to Anchorage Alaska a good 30 years ago… We joked that the snack provided on the plane would be a bag of pretzels that started with the front passengers and was a “take one and pass it down” style. We were all excited to be on our way and had visions of seeing old friends and making new as we were only a few short hours away from this becoming a reality…
and then… we landed in Austin Texas due to poor weather in Huston and sat on the plane for two hours before being cleared to continue to Huston. By the time we reached Huston, we had missed our flight to Tegucigalpa and would need to stay over night to catch a flight the next morning.
Our group motto became, “it is what it is” and With Tim and Scott talking to the powers that be with Continental Airlines, we received a free nights stay at the Hilton, and meal vouchers for lunch, supper, and breakfast before our flight. God had provided – as always.
The next morning, we were on our way and once again our hearts soared. We arrive by noon and discovered that our luggage did not make the flight with us and would be coming in on a later flight. (It is what it is…)
We drove to the mission house and waited for the next plane that afternoon, and once we had our luggage we were off to a very late arrival in Talanga to the Manuelito Project (about 8:30 p.m.).
The kids are always amazing. They recognized those of us who have been there before and quickly got to know those who hadn’t. Justin commented that he was surprised how quickly the kids warmed up to him and by the end of our first evening, the group was well on their way to building relationships.
(This first night was also the night that Kacee became trapped in the womens bathroom when the door wouldn’t open. I was all zonked out with my ambien or I would have pictures of my bunk bed being climbed on by Brett and Austin trying to get her out… but in truth, I pretty much slept through the whole thing.)
February 2nd…. we are up at 6:00 am and I think we heard the new geese at Manuelito before we heard the alarm on Karol’s phone.
At breakfast we jokingly created Bano Buddies (bathroom buddies) to ensure no one would ever be trapped in the bathroom again.
We went out to the tree (my favorite tree int he world) so the new team members could see this incredible massive tree. A few of the kids (and the team) climbed in.
Our work day was building a new dorm area and we worked between mixing cement, scening the sand, shoveling for fill in the building, and building the brick walls. It was a beautiful day. later in the afternoon, Karol and Kacee started sanding picnic tables to be repainted later in the week.
This evening we went to Pastor Elmer’s church behind the Hardware store and were able to hear Heydi sing and listen to a sermon.
Sunday February 3rd we were up at 5:00 a.m. to eat early and head the 2 hours back to Tegucigalpa to attend Jorge’s church. The service was incredible – it was their missions Sunday and they performed a skit on different religions. Lance and I gave our Mission Testimony (how we found our way to Honduras) for both services. We were able to do communion with them and that was an incredible experience that I was thrilled to participate in.
After service we were able to see the kids in the transition house. These are the kids just coming into the Manuelito Project. They spend several months in the transition house before they are ready to go to the project. Louis was there and those of us who had met him last year were excited to see him again. He is three now and just came to manuelito last year a little before our team had arrived.
We took the transition house kids with us to Pizza Hut for lunch. Jorge said this was the first time the kids had ever been out to a restaurant.
We completed our day with the two hour ride back to Talanga. We returned about 7 pm and were exhausted from our long day of activities.
Monday February 4 the chickens and geese woke me up before the alarm at 5 a.m. (I hope there is chicken or goose for dinner tonight)
Today the weather is overcast so we do a mix of odd jobs – shoveling, painting, laundry, sanding picnic tables. I did not feel well so stayed inside and washed walls and scrubbed floors with Trish.
In the afternoon Trish, Kacee, and Karol went through the extra suitcases and seperated what was for Manuelito and what was for AFE. Trish later taught us how to make the friendship bracelets with the kids and they loved it.
Tuesday February 5 – 5:30 a.m. the geese must die.
Wet dreary day, raining off and on. Today we are on brick work again, continuing the walls to make the new dorm. Tim and Justin drive into Tegucigalpa to pick up a new lawn mower as the Manuelito one is broken.
We had an incredible Honduran style lunch and worked the rest of the day. In the evening we spent time hanging out with the kids. The evening ended with a power outage, normal for this area.
Wednesday the 6th.
Maricelle gives her testimony after breakfast.
Maricelle lived 12 years on the streets with her mom. They lived in boxes and searched for food in dumpsters. During the rainy season it was harder because the rain would destroy the cardboard box they called home.
Maricelle would ask for money in the streets and when she couldn’t get it, she would steal it. As she got older she started using glue with Maribell and David to take away the hunger pains. When they were unable to find food, they would kill the hunger by using glue.
At the age of 12 she met Pastor Jorge on the streets. He would come by with a bus and he would open the bus up so they could go in and eat. For two years they met with Jorge and they would go to his church during the day for food and shelter and return to the streets at night before he started Manuelito.
When the transition house was built Jorge invited to Maricelle to live there. She didn’t have to think about it,. she said “yes.”
She had always wanted to meet her father and never was able to. By the time she had tracked him down, she found out he had died. She now refers to Jorge as her father.
Jorge brought her off the streets and now she has a future and a home. She never thought she would have either. She thanks God for bringing Jorge to her and her family and she thanks us for supporting Manuelito and making this place a reality.
Wednesday February 6 and Thursday February 7 – Our last two days at Manuelito. On Wednesday, Tim, Al, and I went to Nathanial’s church to meet with him. Nathanial’s church is our sister church. We were able to talk with him and see how his church is doing.
In the afternoon we worked our final day on this mission. The weather had cleared up and it was a beautiful day. A group of us after lunch were able to walk to Talanga and use the internet cafe. We also walked through the town to see the shops and the culture.
Late afternoon the girls dressed in our “Energia Chica” shirts (Girl Power) and silly puttyed Tim as our annual prank. We then all hurried to finish up our projects and go to church at Natividad’s church. (My favorite of all the churches).
At 4:30 a.m. the toilet paper roll I had been sleeping with next to me on my bunk bed rolled over on to my back and I woke up screaming thinking something was on me. (Got to love the comic relief).
On Thursday we said our good byes to the Manuelito children with promises to come back next year. This day is always a hard day.