Friday, November 19, 2004

Incredibly overwhelming.

I just want you all to know that I am more richly blessed than I can even begin to understand. I came in to read my emails today and my inbox was overflowing with supportive emails. Emails that made me cry they were so encouraging and complimentary. You guys are awesome. I knew that I had great friends but this has just blown me away. Each of you have your own things that you are dealing with and yet you take the time to read my blogs, send me wonderful emails, and pray for me. I can´t say Thank You enough. One of the biggest encouragements I receive is the knowledge that I am touching lives even when I don´t know it. I tend to get into my little world with the children (whose lives I know I am touching) and I forget that adults and peers are watching too. God is so amazing. He reveals himself and his love for me in so many different and unexpected ways. And at times when it is needed most. I am a true believer in the idea that God sends people to others when they are in need and that he has sent each of you to me to keep my spirits high. God has allowed me to wake up every morning to a work that I love. So few people have that these days. I have to admit in the past when I´ve heard the phrase ¨my cup runneth over¨I´ve thought it kind of cliche and the product of high emotion. Now I can´t express my self in any other way. God is pouring blessings on me faster than I can take them in. There are always challenges in the life of a Christian but greatly rewards those that are willing to meet those challenges with Him at their side. Thanks again you guys. You truly are the greatest friends a person could wish for. I love you.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Just A Few Reasons...

Why I love my boys
*They run to give me hugs screaming Mommy Amber Mommy Amber every time we see each other after being apart.
*They learned how to say “sit here please” in English just so they could ask me to sit with them at meal times.
*They find ways to sit next to me at movie time even when there is no room. I usually have one with a head on each knee, one on my lap and one standing behind me either hugging me or playing with my hair.
*3-year-old Selvin loves to put his hand on my knee and say “You’re mine, right?, You’re mine right?”
*When they pray they ask God to take care of Mommy Amber who takes care of them and bring her safely back to them.
*The innocent awe and faith in God of the little ones. One day when there was a rainbow in the sky one of the 4-year-olds pointed it out to me by saying “God made that, right”
* Their excitement over little things, like a little wooden wagon one of the directors made for the babies and every kid took turn riding around in.
*Standoffish 11-year-old Mario told me he loved me the other night as I was walking out of his room; Normal for a lot of the kids but a big breakthrough in my friendship with Mario.
*Even after such a rough life, they are willing to share what they have with anyone who asks. One of my favorite things to see is the kids sharing their chips or candy with one of the kids that doesn´t have any.
*When they think no one is watching the older boys are precious with the babies.

Prison Stories

A funny story-
Well one of the guys at the adult prison has decided that I am too old to be without a husband. As we were talking yesterday one young man of 25 asked me why I wasn’t married yet. I told him that people in America wait longer to get married; most of them wait until they graduate from college. To which he asked if I had graduated and I said yes in April. He said that I have had 7 months to get married and asked me again why I wasn’t. I told him I was going to wait a while. He then asked if I would marry a Honduran. I said yes but it was difficult to find a Honduran man my age who didn’t already have children and who was a Christian. This young man is now scouring the gang section of the maximum security prison in Honduras for just such a man. We shall see :) I’m sure this will lead to more humorous stories to share with you.

And a sweet one-Yesterday when we came in there was an 17-year-old boy also coming in. He wasn’t wearing a shirt and he had a bandage on his side on was walking with a limp. After talking to him I learned that he was coming into the prison for the first time yesterday and had been shot twice, once in the side and once in his leg. The clothes he was wearing, a pair of jeans and some ratty tennis shoes, were the only clothes he had. It is winter right now in Honduras and while it’s nothing like back home it is definitely sweater weather. One of the guys in our group said he would bring him some clothes but we don’t come back for a week. I kept an eye on this boy as the other boys were meeting him for the first time. One of the older boys sat down next to him and talked for a little while and then asked, “Don’t you have shirt?” The boy said No that what he had on was all he had. The other boy then said “you’re going to be cold; you can use one of mine until someone brings you something else to wear”. This may seem insignificant to you but it is a rare and touching thing in this environment. It almost made me cry. None of these boys have very much and risking anything by loaning it to someone who is new is unheard of. These boys never cease to surprise me with their openness and love.

Back With My Boys

Hey Guys – Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I’m now working at the boys’ home 3-4 days a week and I’m pretty busy the rest of the week as well so it’s hard to get to the internet. Things are going wonderfully. Right now I’m fighting some kind of sinus infection and it’s freezing cold so that’s not much fun but other than that I am very very happy. My English classes at the home are going well. The boys are excited about speaking in English and love to practice. I am also having preschool classes with the 8 little ones and I love them. They are precious. I tell them it’s class time and they start chanting “class, class, class” and running up the stairs. I’ve never been involved in anything where I’ve felt so much love and excitement from the people I am working with.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Unique Challenge

Hey There World,
Well I'm finally heading back out to the children's home today and I am soooo excited. I miss my boys. I will now be teaching English and reading to several of the older boys as well as act as a tutor to those that need it. If any of you (especially my dear friend ESL major Ann) have any good ideas for teaching english to kids that can't read please let me know. I've got a few songs in mind and I'm sure things will come to me as I go, but any help will be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you for all your love and support throughout the past couple of weeks. It's been rough and without your love I couldn't have done it. I have a the greatest friends on the planet :) Love Ya!!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

God is Working on Me

Last night God opened my eyes to some things that I have been doing that have been completely in contrast to what I’ve been telling myself I’ve been doing. Right now I am struggling with a decision about whether or not I should move to the children’s home and work. I keep telling myself that it will work out the way God wants it to and that I am trusting God to lead me. The reality, however, is that the moment there was a bump in the smooth road before me I fell apart. I am still in the process of dealing with missing the boys and wanting to be out at the home but I am trying to be more at peace with the process. I think God is teaching me patience and acceptance in a new way. I really do want God to lead me and I pray that I am allowing him to do that. You guys know that I like to be in control and one of my biggest spiritual struggles is relinquishing that control to God. God has blessed me in with immense happiness and a life that I love. I was talking to my good friend Andrew the other day about how lucky I am to be doing something that I truly love. You, my friends, are a huge part of my life and the happiness that have. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I know that the peace that I am able to experience is due in large part to the prayers that you are sending up for me each day. You are truly amazing people and I cherish your love.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hmmm…Interesting Development

Well while I can’t seem to attract a male species close to my age it seems to be noo problem for me to attract those that could be my father. A few of you know about a certain someone in his thirties who decided he liked me before I left to come here. I only wish my new admirer had half the subtlety of that someone. There is a man here that works at the clinic with me and last week said “Hey, you should have dinner with us sometime” not knowing that this man was even single let alone that this was a date invitation (dinner invitations are very very common here, but actually occur) I said “sure, whenever”. I later learned that he was single and while I hear that he has a daughter I’ve yet to see or hear proof of her existence. Soooo….Sunday I am in Izopo (way up in the mountains) when my cell phone rings. It’s a mutual friend asking me to call this guy because his phone doesn’t call cell phones. I say that I’ll call later after church and go on with my day. Realizing at this point that something is probably going on I pretty much “forget” to call him. Later that night someone shows up at my door (which has a doorbell but it is pretty well hidden and only my friends know about it) and keeps knocking on it. Because it is after dark and this is obviously not a friend because he doesn’t know where my bell is, I don’t answer the door. I do however look out the window. I can only see the body of the person at my gate due to the hedges that are in a desperate need of a trimming but I am fairly certain that it was this man. Thinking oh great some 30 something year old guy likes me I head off to work today to make sure it wasn’t another friend that came by the house. I ask my friend and he confirms that yes it was probably “Jim-Bob”(alias), the “30 something year old” who, come to find out, is actually 43, that’s right 43. And he definitely likes me. When he called my friend to have him call me, he told him that we were supposed to go on a date Saturday night (news to me) and he was calling to apologize for not showing up. What in the world!!! This is craziness. I don’t want any of you to worry. This is not a dangerous man and is really a form of much entertainment between one of my girl friends and I here. I will keep you updated on any new developments and I hope that this will just go away, of if I were only so lucky.

My Midget

Short addition to my list of boy’s at the children’s home stories. I wanted to tell you all about my little midget. There is a nine-year-old at the home that is adorable. He is a short little guy and one night as I was kissing and hugging all the boys before bed I called Marlon “Mi Enano” which in Spanish means “my midget”. He cracked up and now every time he sees me he says “what’s my name?” and I say “mi enano”. It is adorable. The other day I was talking to a friend at the home on the phone and she put Marlon on. I wasn’t sure which of the kids I was talking to so I asked who it was and he said “It’s your midget” so I said “Hi my midget” and he started dying laughing. The kids give me so many little blessings like this that brighten my day. I think this story lost a lot in the telling but I promised to share my little stories and that’s what I’m trying to do J. I love you guys.


Hey Guys. I´m going to keep this short. I´m dealing with a lot of beaurocratic (sp?) red tape right now and it´s driving me crazy. I can´t go out to the children´s home until it´s all cleared up (which should be the end of next week or the beginning of next) and it´s bringing me down. Just pray for my patience as I deal with another culture and missing my boys. I love you all and I thank you in advance for your prayers.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Where to start.....

Well as promised I'm going to try and give you all some of my stories but there are 30 kids and I could probably tell you a story or at least something sweet about each one of them so I'll try to be brief.

Adonai - Adonai is my latest project. He is 9-years-old, adorable, and has a very strong speech impediment. When Adonai talks he sounds like a toddler who is just learning to speak. He has an extensive vocabulary he is just unable to pronounce about half of the sounds that we take for granted. Adonai asks me every day numerous times when we are going to practice "reading" (which he is unable to do). Adonai and I have become fast friends and though his frustration is often evident he always ends with a smile. When I push Adonai to practice a word that he has trouble with he looks at me with his great big eyes and then ducks his head and says "Awh Tia No" then sits up straight and sounds it out until he gets it. It's precious. Our sessions are full of laughing and hugs and in the short time that we've been working together I think he's beginning to make a little progress and hopefully with some more work we can get him to a point where every sentence isn't a struggle both to him and his listeners.

The Babies - We have 7 kids that we call "the babies". There are 4 3-year-olds, a 4-year-old and 2 5-year-olds and they are precious. I had only been there two days when we left with the older kids and left the "babies" at home. When we pulled back up all 7 of the babies came running out of the house screaming "Mommy Amber, Mommy Amber" and giving me great big hugs. Let me tell you that was a struggle not to cry and I think it just might have been the moment when my whole heart was taken by Jovenes en Camino.

Jesus - Jesus is 9-years-old and is one of the few boys at the home whose mother is actively involved in visitation. (I must explain something here - there is a policy at Jovenes that no child will be forced to stay, if they truly desire to leave they can, which means they end up back at the government run IHNFA which is less that desirable). One day Jesus came up to me after dinner and as we were playing around he told me he was leaving tomorrow. I asked Jesus if he was serious and he said yes so then we went off by ourselves to talk. Jesus's mother is pressuring him to leave the home and come to stay with her and Jesus is really struggling with this decision. It breaks my heart to see these little kids having to make such adult decisions. I ended up sitting with Jesus for over an hour and at one point we both had tears in our eyes. He is happy at Jovenes and doesn't want to leave but feels like he needs to do what his mother wants him to. I talked to Jesus about making the decision for himself and not for his family and after and lot of hugs and several tears Jesus decided to stay. I've since had a similar conversation with another boy and I struggle to understand the pain that these boys deal with every day.

Most of the boys can't read and another of my projects right now is practicing reading with the older boys. Several of the boys can't even sound out letters let alone read. I treasure my one on one time with the boys as I struggle to learn to teach and they struggle to learn. They brighten up my days and thoughts of them are constantly on my mind. It is truly a possibility that this will become my life's work. Here is a website that has some pictures of my boys and I hope to add some pictures to my site soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I´m a new mommy!!!

It´s sure been a while (sorry guys). A million things have changed since I last wrote. I´m now volunteering at the children´s home about an hour away and I have fallen in love with the kids. All the little ones and several of the older ones call me Mommy Amber, which melts my heart. The rest call me Tia(aunt) Amber. I now work there 3 days a week but usually end up going out there more often than that. There are 30 kids that range from 3-13 and they are precious. They have a lot of problems and most of them can´t read but I´ve starting working with several of them and I am loving it. I wish I had time to sit here and tell you my stories but right now I don´t. I hope to post tomorrow or I may try to write up some posts at home and then just post them when I get internet access. I don´t know. Just know that things are absolutely wonderful right now and I will fill you in again as soon as possible. I love you all!!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

My precious boys

I want to share with you all one of the most touching things that I do. You all know that I visit the prisons once a week and I wank to share with you a little more in depth about this experience. These boys range in age from 10-18 most of them are around 15 or 16. There are usually around 200 boys in the prison at one time but it seems to go in shift with several kids coming or going at the same time. The boys are divided into 3 sections; the eighteens, the MS's, and everyone else. The 18's and the MS's are two rival gangs and if they were together they would kill each other and/or recruite the other boys into their gangs for this reason the each have seperate sections of the jail. There are about 25 boys in each of the gang sections and then everyone else is in the main section of the jail. Each week I am touched by the number of boys that come up and ask Eriberto (the man I go with) to call their mom's and ask them to come visit them. This never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. I can't imagine my child ever having to ask a virtual stranger to call me up and beg me to go visit my son. These boys are literally starving for attention. We bring them all together for a devotional each week and they clamber to sit next to us. They won't "purposely" reach out to you, I think their need is just to overwhelming for them to acknowledge, but they will find reasons to bump into you or they smash inbetween you and the person next to you so that they have some contact, some affection. I'm getting to know a few of the boys fairly well and a couple of them will hug me goodbye. Sitting and talking to a group of them is filled with taps coming from all sides and not stop talking just so that I will give them each my attention. Most of them have had incredibly difficult lives and most of them have no one that comes to visit them. One of my favorite boys starting opening up to me last week and was telling me that he had been in and out of this prison his whole life, a total of 4 times, for doing drugs. He started by sniffing glue and then just worked his way up as the effects stopped being enough to help him cope with the pain in his life. He's lived on the streets or in this prison since before he was able to fend for himself. Boys like this just steal my heart. I can't help but wonder what these sweet, loving boys could have been if they'd been born to a family that loved them. Instead they're sitting in jail wondering if anyone will ever love them and if they will ever be able to overcome the things they've done in the past. I'll ask them if they are going to do drugs or be in a gang or whatever problem it is we're discussing, when they get out of prison and they are so honest. They look at me with fear and pain in their eyes and they say that they don't know. They tell me how hard it is not to. These boys rarely sit still, they are fidgety and have a hard time focusing, but when we pray I've never seen anyone pray more fervently. They want to believe in God. They want to believe they're worth being saved. They want to think that maybe God can love them. Of all the things I'm doing here in Honduras, I feel that this is the most important. This is the place where I share the love God has given me directly with kids who want it so badly. Please pray for these boys and please pray for me as I look for the right ways to share with them.

Is it raining??

I thought I'd share with you some of the adventures of my new home which I moved into about a month ago. First of all let me explain the layout of my house. You walk in the front door and to your right are a set of stairs that lead to the 3 bedrooms and one bathroom that are upstairs. You then walk into the living/dining room. Beneath the stairs is a second bathroom and a bedroom that I am contemplating making into an office. On the other side of the living room is the kitchen. This is the whole "inside" of the house. You then walk out the back door in the kitchen and on your right is a bedroom and bathroom that was advertised as a maidsroom and truthfully is a little bit scary. I avoid that room quite a bit. This is also where the large cement cauldron is for washing clothes. So anyway... 3 times now I've woken up in the morning in my upstairs bedroom, looked out the window, and thought "is it raining? I hear rain, but I don't see rain" I then precede to get up and look for the source of this conundrum. My mind is getting quicker and I now know the first place to look. The "maid's" bathroom. Occasionally, and for absolutely no reason at all because no one enters that part of the house, the toilet decides, in the middle of the night, to erupt water. This isn't a small leak this is Niagura falls in the back room. When this occurs I have to wade (because by this point the floor is 3-4 inches deep in water) into this dark dungeon of a room to try and turn off the toilet or at least direct it's flow towards the shower. Turning off the toilet is never an option because each time I think it is fixed and I turn the knob the knob falls off in my hand. After the third time, the handy neighborhood man that fixes things in my house decides that the problem is just to hard to fix and turns off the water completely to that bathroom. I'm hoping this is at least a temporary solution to the problem. Thinking this was the only problem toilet in the house, I was lulled into a false sense of security. This morning I woke up, stumbled to my nice little bathroom upstairs and used the toilet. Afterwards, as all good human beings do, I flushed the toilet...bad decision. My toilet decided it did not want to be flushed and began spraying water around my bathroom. I frantically move things like the toilet paper and my bathroom products out of the way while trying not to get soaked. After turning off the water I realize that this flooding bathroom is something I can fix. I take the top off of the toilet and precede to work my toilet fixing magic. My bathroom is now back in working order but I haven't yet gained the confidence to try my hand at the dungeon toilet. I think that' s a job for someone much braver and more skilled than me.
I have also had run ins with cockroaches, mice, rats and other household pests in my first month here. I seem to have gotten all of those problems under control through a combination of traps, poisons, and sprays. Life in Honduras will keep you on your toes. I'm going to the prison tomorrow so I'm sure I'll have some more stories again soon.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Scary Encounters

Hey there world. This is my first real blog entry so we'll see how it goes. I'm going to spare you all background information because I'm assuming that most if not all of the people reading this already receive my monthly newsletters. I thought I'd share with you all my latest two adventures. As most of you know I go to the juvenile boys prison every thursday and I quite enjoy it. It's great to be able to share some love with these boys that rarely receive any attention and are starved for a hug and someone to talk to. Well this past thursday I call to verify that my ride will be picking me up as usual and I am told that we are going on Friday at 10 instead, no biggy. So Friday I jump in the car and enroute I am told that we are going to the adult male prison and visiting the members of the gang 18, which is the most dangerous gang in Honduras. After a short and silent panic attack I resign myself to going to the one place in Honduras that I have been avoiding, the maximum security prison. When we walk in, of course, all eyes are on the young white girl that's never been there before and is the only person in the group anywhere near their age. Besides being incredibly intimidating looking the guys were fine and after about an hour of them all staring at me throughout a devotional and initial introductions, I struck up a conversation with 4 or 5 of the guys and made some new friends. As I learned on the way home after also visiting my boys at the juvenile prison, this will now be a weekly occurance. Though I don't think I'll ever enter without some trepidation, I look forward to the friendships that will be forged and the new opportunities that God has given me to share his love in a new place. On a less frightening though only slightly less stressful note, I've been dealing with ants in the office at the clinic for a very long time and today I got sick of it. Mind you these are not normal size ants, they are enormous and take up a good portion of my pinky fingernail, for an ant that's huge. The ants seemed to be coming from the printer so today I decided to take apart the printer and see once and for all what the problem was with these horrible things. Well I found the problem. As I lifted the back portion of the printer off ants starting pouring out. It was like a seen from some third rate horror film and I really thought they were going to take over the office and eventually the world. I preceded to take apart the back section, outside where I could make a run for it if I needed to, and found that it was completely full of ants and ant larvae. It was really disgusting but it seems to have fixed the problem and I hope to keep the ants at bay from now on.

I'm a Geek!!

I just wrote out my first post then changed the page and deleted the whole thing so I'm going to keep this second try short and hope not to make it a third. I thought I better hop on the blog band wagon before it leaves me behind. I'm amazed at how many of my friends do this on a regular basis and doubt that my blog will hold a candle to their faithful entries but here's to hoping.