Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!!! Here are a few pics from our Christmas celebration.  I may have a few more from lunch later.  The ham is finally in the oven, I¨m sooo excited.

Every year we do a family Christmas picture but this year there was no one to take it.  So I used the timer.  After several, several tries I think this "practice shot" is my favorite.  Unfortunately I didn´t have my sweater on and the puppies aren´t in it.

So this was the next best one. 
The puppies really have a hard time settling when one of us jumps up every 5 seconds to hit the button again.

Before the excitement began


This was a set of puzzles that was on sale, he wasn´t real excited but he put on a good face.  Sweet kid.

My beautiful necklace and earings from Darwin

Can´t ever go wrong buying him a soccer ball

The closest thing to a standing Kitchenaide Darwin could afford.  I was so touched he remembered me looking at them at the grocery store. 

My favorite of his Christmas presents

His favorite of his Christmas presents.  (He picked this out, I would never, ever pick a bright orange tshirt with a sequined tiger on it for anyone that planned on hanging out with me)

And the bright blue sequined hat with a skull on it to match?

Random gift request of the year, a skateboard.  But he´s been riding it around the house all morning and it was $5 so definitely worth it.

That´s all for now.  Merry Christmas!!

A Sad Ending to the Night

Last night as we were driving home from our homeless christmas celebration we saw Ovilio, another favorite, sitting in a door way.  Ovilio is always sober and always making jokes.   He had been at the stadium and received a gift but we had a few extras and he was alone so we called him over to give him another one.  Ovilio said thank you and told me goodbye one last time then started to walk away.  But as he was walking away Darwin and I both realized something was wrong.  Ovilio is always making jokes and laughing and he just wasn´t himself.  I asked him what was wrong and he just looked at me.  Then Darwin asked him what was wrong and he said nothing but he was obviously holding back tears.  Then he said, "It´s nothing, I´m just sad".  Darwin asked him if he missed his family and he made a quick retreat back to his doorfront, trying not to cry.  Darwin got out of the car and went to talk to him for a bit then we continued on, he was trying hard not to lose it in front of us and we wanted to give him that dignity.  But it was one of the hardest things I´ve seen down there.  He was trying so hard to be brave, but no one should have to feel alone, especially at Christmas.  Darwin and I both rode in silence with tears running down our faces for a long time.  Then Darwin said, ¨That could so easily be me.  Sometimes I don´t appreciate what I have."  Talk about a heart breaker.  I just pray that both Darwin and Ovilio know that they aren´t ever alone and that God will fulfill our need for love if we allow him to. 

Christmas with Breaking Chains

In Honduras they celebrate Christmas on the 24th, which worked out great for us because we were able to celebrate Christmas with all of our homeless friends on their actual Christmas day.  We spent most of yesterday putting together, 20 bags for women, 20 bags for kids, and 60 bags for men so that everyone would get something for christmas.

All but 25 of the adult bags were able to contain a tshirt or some other item of clothing thanks to clothing that has been donated in the past. 

The rest of the bags had bath products and small stuffed animals.  The kids´bags were easy to come up with.  We were able to find lots of great toys and stuffed animals from left over give away stuff.

Every bag also had candy and an apple (a traditional honduran christmas food) It took some work but we were able to get something for everyone.  Which was a huge relief to me.
Roberto and Dulce, two of my favorites, Dulce has her christmas doll.
All of the bags were numbered then they drew numbers and received the matching bag.  This eliminated any issues of favortism and everything went much much smoother than anticipated.

Dulce and Jenny, Saying goodbye to Jenny was really difficult.  She´s become like a daughter to me and she took the fact that I¨m leaving for a few weeks really hard.

Eating Christmas Dinner

Rice, Beans, Sourcream and Pepsi

Sweet faces to remember

Just a few of the sweet faces I will be taking with me in my heart when I head back to the states tomorrow (weather permitting).

These two little girls are new at church.  I don´t know their names but they are precious!

My sweet silly kids, I´m going to miss them

Sarita.  Love, love love her

Sarita and her mom wiping down the pews before church.  It´s fun to watch them working together and laughing.

Alfonsito, he brings me flowers all the time.  It´s so sweet.

Darwin and Roberto, one of our favorite homeless guys.

Some of the guys from the park being silly.  We love them so much.

Roberto was harrassing me about something, I don´t remember what, but we were both laughing when we should have been smiling for the camera.  I´m going to miss him.

1st Annual Nueva Espana Vigilia

On December 19th Nueva Espana (Mogote) Church of Christ had their first vigilia.  A vigilia is basically an adult lockin.  The whole church stays all night and listens to speakers, eats lots of good food, and the youth group performs prepared skits and songs.  The church in Mogote has been talking about doing a vigilia for almost as long as it has existed.  And this year it became a reality.  They asked me to make 250 cupcakes for the event, which I agreed to without really thinking about.  The day of the vigilia I spent all day making and icing cupcakes and finished up right as it was time to go.  I was exhausted but also honored to be a part of such an important event with our church family.  I was in charge of keeping the kids occupied, so we did lots of Christmas crafts and then at about 11 we watched Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.  The kids loved it and the adults loved that the kids were held captive for a couple of hours.  I didn´t take any pictures and really I was in a haze most of the night but it was great for the church.  They are already making plans for next year. 

A Fun Day

Early this month a good friend of mine sent some money down for a couple of kids she has known for many many years, and today I got the priviledge of spending the day with them and trying to help them pick out Christmas presents.
We started out the afternoon by seeing Avatar which I wouldn´t necessarily recommend for small kids but their mom was going to take them and they REALLY wanted to see it so we went.  At the beginning of the movie Mariela said ¨this is the best movie I´ve ever seen.¨ In the middle of the movie she said ¨I never want to watch this again¨ (I think she was a little scared at that point) and at the end of the movie she said I LOVED THAT MOVIE!!  So I guess it got mixed reviews.  Arnoldo was glued to it the entire time. 

Afterwards we went to pick out presents.  Arnoldo was very successful and quite the little bargain hunter.  Mariela wanted a skateboard with two wheels (I have no idea what that is) and ended up coming home empty handed.  Her mom later found the skateboard and I¨m going to head over there later today to take a picture of Mariela and her new skateboard and give her mom the money for it. 

Since Avatar was a whopping 3 hours long (I didn´t realize that going in) we were really late to feed the homeless and I decided to take the kids with me, then take them home afterwards.  I was so glad I did.  They were great helpers and I think they had their eyes opened a little bit to the fact that there is good in everyone.  At one point Mariela looked at me and said "I thought all street people were bad people".  Both of the kids had a great time and I think I will have them helping me again in the future.  It was a great day and fun was had by all.

(Merry Christmas Holly, this post was mostly for you!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Sweet Story

No pics here :) Lost or otherwise

The other night we were at La Chimbomba when I noticed that everyone was really picking on one of the guys that is usually a pretty sweet guy(I think his name is Olman) and he was walking around yelling at everyone.  I didn´t think too much of it and went on with the evening.  As we were getting ready to leave though, Olman came up and was crying hard.  He was pretty out of it and very distressed so I had him sit down on the curb and I sat down to talk to him.  Once he was calmed down enough to talk I realized that his shoes had been stolen and that they were picking on him because he was accusing everyone of doing it.  We talked a long time about how it´s easy for him to get taken advantage of when he´s too out of it to defend himself.  In the end I gave him the pink flip flops I was wearing and told him to go find somewhere by himself until he was more coherent. 
So, then we headed down to the park and I tiptoed around the car and sat on the tailgate.  Darwin proceeded to tell everyone my shoes were stolen and they quickly put together a "posse" to go take care of the situation.  We laughed and told them what had happened and everyone calmed back down.  It was sweet how quick they were to defend me.  But the sweetest thing was Vanessa.  Vanessa opened up the little bag she carries with her everywhere and offered me her extra pair of sandals.  I almost cried.  It was so precious.  She literally has nothing.  Less than most of even the homeless people but she was willing to give me her "extra" because I was barefoot, without expecting anything in return.  It was definitely the most vivid picture of Luke 3:11 I have ever seen. "John answered, "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."  What about those of us that have closets overflowing with shirts and shoes and food.  I´ve done some serious self reflection since that night. 

An Early Christmas

Okay, I´m really sad that these pictures won´t upload but maybe later.  Recently Dudley and Vicki Chancey and Norm and Denise Easter came for Baxter graduation.  Dudley and Vicki brought lots of presents from home and Darwin and I had a great early Christmas.  One of the guys from the Izopo Corn Team sent us a Wii!!!! We were both SOOO excited.  Dudley and Vicki gave us a game and extra controllers for the Wii as well as some fun kitchen stuff and clothes for Darwin.  The Moore family sent down a big box of kitchen goodies and some chocolates and movies.  It was a great day!!! I´ve got lots of cute pics so hopefully later I can get them to upload.  Someone is on the Wii almost constantly when we´re home.  We´re really getting a kick out of it. 
Now I just need to get on with my own Christmas shopping or Christmas morning we´re going to be sitting around looking at each other :). 

Emmanuel Orphanage

Last weekend before the girls went home, we loaded up the puppies and headed off to Orfanato Emanuel, the children´s home where the girls worked before coming to Tegucigalpa.  It is a really nice facility and we had a lot of fun playing with the kids.  I didn´t take any pictures at all but Darwin took a few.  I´m working on posting them here but I think I´m going to have to wait until Darwin gets back with the cable to my camera which is in the car.  For some reason several of the pictures I downloaded aren´t working so I´m going to try it again later. 

We had a lot of fun and the puppies were a HUGE hit.  They were kind of overwhelmed by all the kids but they did a good job remaining calm.  I´ve got some good babies :).

Emmanuel is about 2 and a half hours from Tegucigalpa so the volunteers don´t see a lot of  "American" food.  I made pizza for everyone for dinner then we played Pit.  I haven´t laughed so hard in a  long time.  Several of the volunteers are from Denmark and are absolutely hilarious.  It was so much fun just laughing and hanging out for a night.  
(I´ll try to post some more pics later)

Mariachi Band

So, Alli and Tess have had a dream all their lives of hearing a Mariachi band (or so I¨m told).  Well it just so happens that the last place we feed is across from the Mariachi Band Members Union (or something like that).  So a couple of weeks ago Darwin decided to make the girls´ dream come true.  He went and talked to some of the Mariachi guys hanging around and asked them to come play for us.  It was HILARIOUS!  We had so much fun.  The homeless guys all jumped up and danced around with us and sang the songs. (none of those pictures turned out)   It was a really neat night and I think everyone involved enjoyed it a lot.

Several of the guys we work with claim to be able to play guitar so we´re working on procurring one for Christmas.  They LOVE to sing.  So maybe one day we´ll have a Breaking Chains choir and band.  You never know! :)


I think I´ve talked on my blog before about Shine!, it´s a program being started by some friends of mine to help underpriviledged kids get a better education than is available in the public school system here.  I have been blessed with being able to help get this started.  It is very exciting to be on the ground floor of something that is going to change many many lives. 

Mariela, who traveled to the states with me this summer, has been enrolled in a really great school for most of her educational experience and we are planning on using the same school with Shine!. 

In January, 4 1st graders from Mateo will be enrolled in Alitom school to begin an adventure in learning.  It´s going to be really tough at first but these are bright kids and we know that with our support they are up to the challenge.  Mariela is a great example of what can be accomplished with some hard work and loving support.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child´s education let me know and I will get you all the information you need.  Here are some pics of the school the kids will be attending.


A word from your sponsor :)

Hey Guys,
Sorry for the terrible delay on these blog updates.  I´ve been feeling really strange and tired at night which is when I usually blog, I´ve been sleeping instead.  And my computer is doing something weird and is having a really hard time giving me pictures but I´m now sitting in front of two different computers with an external hard drive and a jump drive and the determination to post some blogs.  Unfortunately none of them are really earth shattering or anything but I hope you will enjoy them.  Love you guys!!!

Nov Dec Newsletter

Hello Friends,
I pray that you are all enjoying this holiday season with friends and family.  We´ve had several visitors lately and I´m headed home soon for a couple of weeks right after Christmas.  So, I´m looking forward to some family time myself.
It´s been a crazy busy month, like always, but great things are happening.  Breaking Chains is taking off.  We seem to have more people show up every time we go.  I am also really developing relationships with a lot of them.  I love them so much.  It´s often hard to walk away.  The other day we had a birthday party for Little 2 year old Leticia on the side of the road on a blanket, complete with cupcakes, presents and singing.  It was so much fun and everyone really enjoyed it.  I hope to start having monthly birthday parties for everyone. 
I met with Medicos sin Fronteras (Doctors without Borders) a few weeks ago.  They work nearby and they are really excited about partnering with us.  They recently cut their feeding program and are beginning to work their way out of the country due to lack of funding.  They answered a lot of my questions and offered to help us with any medical issues we have as well as do occasional health seminars.  I´m really excited about this new relationship. 
****At the bottom of this newsletter I´m attaching some personal stories from my blog about Breaking Chains.  It´s kind of long though so I decided not to put it here.

Things at church continue to go well.  As I mentioned last month I challenged my bible class students to invite enough friends to have 40 kids in our 8 to 12 class at least twice.  THEY DID IT! They were so excited.  We had a big pizza and movie party with over 50 kids in attendance.  Their next goal is 80 kids at least twice.   If they do that I told them I would take them all to the national park.  I told my mom I´m more nervous about having 80 kids in my class than having 80 kids running wild at the park but they are excited to reach the next goal.  It´s so much fun to watch them light up at recognition for inviting a friend or learning their memory verse.  They are precious, precious kids. 
This weekend we are having a ¨vigilia¨.  A vigilia is basically an all night church service.  We start out with a big meal then have guest speakers and singing all night.  At some point in the middle of the night we will also have a bonfire.  I´m a little apprehensive about this all night church service but the church members are extremely excited and have been planning it for months.  It will be fun to watch our church family spend some quality time together, but I may have to hide some coffee in the car to stay awake J.  The ladies in charge of the meal have asked me to make 250 cupcakes for the event.  I´m going to do my best, but we may end up with a few regular cakes instead. 

This month has seen lots of visitors and random events.  Early in November we had a small team visit from Indianapolis.  They traveled to Izopo to help them develop new ways of corn production in order to better feed their families and make a small profit.  It was the beginning of something that could change the whole community in a really great way.  On their last night we camped in the church building and had a big bonfire.  This was our second camping trip in Izopo and we had a wonderful time. 
Alli Booth and Tess Mitchell from Chicago have been working in Mateo and this month began working a lot more with us as well.   Together we had a lot of laughs and helped a lot of homeless people.  The girls did a great job and were a great help to Darwin and I with handing out food.  This past weekend we took the girls to the orphanage they used to work at to say goodbye to staff and kids before heading home.  It was neat to see another work here and make friends with their volunteers and kids.  We took the puppies along and the kids LOVED them.  The puppies were a little overwhelmed but adapted well.  Today we sent the girls home for about a month.  They will come back in January with new plans to work with the people of Honduras.  They really are a blessing.
The weekend before last was Baxter graduation and several people were in town for that.  It was great to see old friends.  Dudley and Vicki brought with them an early Christmas for Darwin and I.  And thanks to a very sweet man who came earlier this year we now have a Wii.  It has definitely gotten plenty of use already and brought a lot of smiles to our faces.   While they were here I was able to show Dudley and Vicki, and Denise Easter the building we are hoping to purchase for Breaking Chains.  We also fed people with Denise and Norm.  It is always a blessing, and a lot of fun, to share my dreams for the future with more people. 
I´m making a quick trip home from December 26th to January 16th to visit the family and Park Plaza.  Then I´ll be back here and prayerfully opening the building for Breaking Chains in February.  It needs a lot of work but I feel like God is leading this decision.  We have a medical team at the end of January into early February then it´s going to be full force with Breaking Chains.  I´m really excited.  Please pray for these preparations.  
Prayer List
  • All of our friends with Breaking Chains.  That they see the love of God shine through us and that his protection be on them as they live a very dangerous life.
  • The church in Mogote.  That it continue to grow and that the leadership continues to have the strength to lead as we step out of the way and let the locals take over their thriving congregation.
  • That my trip home be restful and encouraging
  • That I am following God´s lead always and not taking any steps forward with Breaking Chains without his lead.
  • For two little girls in Mogote (who will go unnamed here) that are dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse.  I pray daily that God wrap his arms around these babies and shows them more love than we can humanly show them.  They´ve got a rough road ahead.
  • For Jenny and Dulce, Jenny is really struggling right now to provide a stable life for them both.  We´ve shed a lot of tears together.  I pray that God shows me the best way to help her.  
  • For Shine! as we prepare to enroll the first 4 kids into a new school.  It is going to be very difficult at first but with God´s help we know these kids will be thefirst of many to thrive with new opportunities.  
As always I thank you for your love and support and appreciate any words of encouragement you write.  This work can´t continue without you.  Have a very Merry Christmas and great holiday season.  (Don´t forget to check out my blog, there´s an excerpt at the end of this email!)

Amber Foster
Silver Mountains Ministries

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Stories from Breaking Chains

I'm not positive what this is going to be but I have several stories in mind so we'll see where this goes.  If it gets too long I'll break it up.
  • From the first time we went down to La Chimbomba there has been a boy that I connected with named Nelson (18, the same age as Darwin).  Nelson is a mess and he was especially difficult at first.  He would often try to intimidate Darwin into giving him things.  But there was something about him that just seemed sad to me and really struck a cord in my heart.  Nelson no longer trys to intimidate Darwin and often spends some special time talking to me after we've finished feeding.  Early last week Nelson was stabbed three times in the back.  Doctors without Borders took care of his injuries and they were bandaged so I never saw them but knew he was pretty weak.  I saw him once after that happened then he's not been around.  I had asked some of the kids about him and no one knew where he was.  Tonight Nelson was there with a neck brace on.  He showed up right as we were getting ready to leave and I just turned around and he was standing really quietly, close beside me.  I asked him what had happened.  He had tried to commit suicide by hanging himself.  When I asked him why he said "I was disappointed and desperate".  Then he just kind of leaned into me and put his arm around me and cried for awhile.  This is a kid who rarely touches anyone. We stood there for a while like that then I told him how much he was loved by me and by God and that we didn't want to lose him.  We talked awhile about how relationships pass (his girlfriend had broken up with him) but how there are other girls and he can always talk to God.  He is in counseling at Doctors without Borders and promised to come by on Saturday but he is definitely heavy on my heart tonight.  There is so little hope in their lives, many of them bear the physical and emotional scars of failed suicide attempts.  It is nights like tonight that I am reminded of how truly hopeless we all are without God.
  • On Tuesday we pulled up to La Chimbomba and Paola walked up and gave me a hug.  This is becoming typical of everyone there.  We share a lot of hugs now.  Anyway, Paola is usually putting on a tough face and acting mad at everyone, occasionally she's laughing and joking.  I have never before seen her sad.  But on Tuesday when I asked her how she was she said "I wish I could say good."  I asked her why she wasn't good and her eyes filled up with tears.  She and I walked over to a place away from everyone and she cried for a while while I hugged her.  I asked her what was wrong and she said "some days are just hard, I can't always be strong."  At that moment I identified with her in a very real way.  I have no idea how hard the things she's dealing with are or even really what she was dealing with that day but I know exactly how she feels.  We all do.  Sometimes we just have a bad day, regardless of the scale of days we're on, and we need someone to give us a hug and tell us it's all going to be okay.  I thank God I have so many people willing to fill that need in my life and I feel so honored that he has allowed me to fill that need in the lives of some very special people.
  • I have talked about Maniqueso before.  He is usually very helpful and easy to love.  When we had Leticia's birthday party one of the shirts I got her was way too big and I told her mom I would exchange it.  Well in the midst of the party craziness Maniqueso picked up the shirt and was walking around with it.  I asked him to give it to me and he said he would take it to the car where Darwin was.  Well long story short he ended up walking off with it and we didn't notice until we got home that it was gone.  So the next time we went I told Maniqueso that he didn't get food that night because he had stolen the shirt and he needed to pay me back.  He didn't deny it he just went over and sulked for awhile and we went on with the night.  Well after that he refused to take our food so on Saturday I decided it was time to sit down and talk with him.  I wanted to make sure he knew that we still loved him and wanted him around.  So I told him as much and offered him a plate of food.  He refused the food and said "no, I stole from you, I'm not going to eat your food for the rest of the year.  I'm sorry." Then he looked at me and smiled and said, "I would take a glass of water though."  It was so good to see him smile again.  He has imposed a punishment on himself and we are chosing to honor that.  I definitely respect that in him.  As soon as he realized I wasn't mad at him though  he became his sweet joking self again and started teasing me about Christmas presents.  Their idea of love is so tenuous that I think they find it hard to believe we don't reject them at the slightest offense.  They are so relieved to learn about and receive forgiveness.
  • A couple of nights ago, maybe Monday, several of the guys at the park had minor injuries that needed attention so I got out my first aide kit and started fixing everyone up.  In the mean time they had started giving us nicknames based on our jobs that evening.  Alli was Aguatera (watergirl), Darwin was Sopero (Soup Boy) and Tess was Tortillera (Tortilla girl).  Then Darwin asked them what my nickname was and one of them said Doctora (doctor) then another said no Curadora (Healer).  Since then they've gone back and forth between calling me mom and healer.  I pray that I can be a little of both to them. 
Well I think that's it for now.  I hope I didn't leave out any major happenings in my life in the past week but I'm sure I did somewhere along the way.  I've got a newsletter coming up, hopefully tomorrow, so you'll get the highlights.  Thanks for reading.  Love you guys.

Odds and Ends

Okay I adore roses.  One of my favorite of God's creations. 

Today I bought 12 roses and 9 orchids for $9, isn't that great!

Pretty little windchime one of my homeless friends sold me for a dollar.

Taking a decent picture of my sad little christmas tree in my poorly lit house was next to impossible but we love both our tree and our living room :)