Monday, April 20, 2015

Hands Lifted High

A Note from the Author: I'm aware this post is more reminiscent of 3 posts in one.  I couldn't adequately make it flow like I would like, so I just wrote.... wrote from my heart.  I hope amidst it all, you feel that.

I am ruined.

What I had imagined and had been told has now been before my very eyes.

It's no longer a Compassion commercial.  It's no longer World Vision telling me about the needs of people in 3rd world countries.  It's no longer me being able to flip the channel or tune out the speaker at a concert.

It's real.  And I am undone.

While we fret over standardized test scores, complain about the nutrition in school lunches, and attempt to blame teachers for failures that clearly lie with the parents, they attend school here:

While we complain about needing a bigger house or having to clean ours, they're living here:

How do I know and come home and do nothing?

The answer?  I can't.

I look at this picture above.  They were thirsty.  They were asking us for water.  And while multiple kids were in the nearby stream, drinking muddy water, Michele began giving handfuls of water for them to lap out of their hands.... and they were happy.

Please don't rush past that last sentence.  They were happy to get a handful of clean water.  So how can I possibly come home and act as if I haven't witnessed these things for myself?

I simply cannot.

Can I tell you something?

There's a difference between us and them.  And as I sit here and type this, my eyes well up with tears.  Because they're happy.  They literally live in huts, often with no electricity or running water, and they're happy.  They were constantly smiling.  And more often than not, they literally ran to meet us.  They heard we were there and began pouring out of the woods and villages.  They were so excited to see us, to hear what we had to say.  They were excited about toothbrushes, pencils, and frisbees.  And oh did they listen.  They were quiet.  They were respectful.  They anticipated hearing about Jesus.  It didn't matter how hot it was.  It didn't matter that we were a bunch of white strangers.  They were eager to hear about Jesus.

There's something about this picture that touches me every time I look at it.  Part of it is that it's my husband and I got to witness him sharing the love of Jesus so many times while we were there.  Hand lifted high, he unabashedly proclaimed the Word as Manuel translated for him.  There's something about hearing the Gospel in two languages that is absolutely moving, particularly with Manuel's love for Christ so evident.  And the other part I love so much?  Well, it's their pure concentration on his every word .... HIS word.

We lack the awe they have for the Word.  And that's humbling, friends.... convicting.

So many things about Honduras have been convicting for me.  Like the way we often disregard our elderly.  That's in part why this next picture is one of my favorites... because I saw her coming, walking to the school from a ways off.  I watched her.  I watched others watch her.  She appeared to be revered within the village.  She walked straight up to me and smiled.  I was touched by her silent strength and openness towards us.

I asked "un foto?"  She shook her head and said "Si".  And here we are.  I showed her the picture on the camera and she just smiled and smiled.

As Mark went to help prepare for speaking to the children, she said "Soy Rita".  I said "Hola Rita.  Soy Phoebe" and my mom said "Soy Linda."

But it's what she did next that has profoundly touched me.  It has stuck with me and reverberated in my very soul.

She reached toward Heaven.  Hands lifted high.  She looked up, starring into the baby blue sky, then brought her hands back down, covering her heart.  She grabbed my hands and looked straight into my eyes with a smile.

No translator was needed.  Language barriers suddenly ceased to exist.

It was as if Rita was telling me she thanked God we were there.

And I was speechless.  Humbled and thankful for that moment we shared.  Two people.  Two races.  Two languages.  But one Savior.

All I could do was shake my head, acknowledging her kindness.

I watched Rita as a school room full of kids listened as they were told about Jesus.

I watched her as the kids poured out of the room to run outside and play with their new frisbees.

I watched her as the adults were invited in.  You see, there were so many adults that had come from the nearby villages to see what was going on that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to share Christ with them too.  One by one they began saying that the way to Heaven was by being good.  And it was in that moment that I was so incredibly thankful for the heart of the Director of EIM being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and having called all the adults in for an extra service so they could hear that the way to Heaven isn't by being good, but rather through the blood of Jesus and trusting that His sacrifice and their repentance is all they need.

Head bowed, praying, I watched Rita.

I prayed that God would speak to her... to the others.

I watched as one momma held her baby in her lap and long after the prayer had been prayed, she continued with head bowed, mouth speaking words to the Father above.

How can I have experienced these things and not be changed?

I came home and I find myself being angry.  Angry that people don't get it.  That I can't adequately relay what we witnessed.  That the pictures just don't do it justice.  Angry that while they're struggling amidst poverty and drug cartels that my kids are arguing because one is watching TV and the other wants to play the Wii.  Angry that they just need food and adequate resources and I spend money on Plexus.  Angry that our city is arguing about whether or not we need a dog park.  I'm just angry.

I don't know how to come back here and live with what I've seen.

Yet I felt Him speaking to me through the words of my friend, Jenny.

"Phoebe, anger is not the way."

"You were born here for a reason.  Use it for His glory."

And so it is.

You see, because it begins with teaching my kids because missions begins in my home.

We got word while in Honduras that our sweet Emi was sick.  She was/has been sick for quite awhile now.  And when we got back, all she wanted was her mommy.  Truth be told, that's all she still wants.

Do you believe that missions is about showing your own kids the love of Christ too?  Because I'm telling you, sometimes we can miss the big picture because we're looking for something huge instead of what's right in front of our eyes.

Hands lifted high, she just wanted me.

It was in those moments that God was, and is, teaching me things.  I can't be angry... but I can make a difference.  In my home.  With how I raise my children.  And with how we teach them to impact the world for Christ.  And oh, how I hope they have tremendous impacts on this world.

Because this little girl needs Jesus just as much as those across the world.

I don't yet know what this experience means.  I do know it means change.  We're still in the process of figuring out exactly what that looks like.

But what I do know is that starting in May, we will be donating a portion of Plexus money to EIM (Evangelistic International Ministries) to help further the spread of the Gospel.  We're praying that God would bless my Plexus business so that we can give more and more and that through His blessings, we could do something incredible for His kingdom with this money.

We're praying about future mission's trips because we can't imagine not going back.

We're talking about missions with our kids.

We're discussing how we can better evangelize right where we are - like showing Eli's best friend, David, from Mexico pictures from our time in Honduras.  He was so excited that they looked like him.  He asked to listen to a part of Mark talking to them about Jesus that I had recorded, so I let him.

Do you believe this matters too?  Because it does, friends.

It's that simple.  Just share Jesus, wherever that may be.

If it's on the mission's field in Honduras or Africa.  Share Jesus.

If it's in the grocery store.  Share Jesus.

If it's at work or in the classroom.  Share Jesus.

Because, with hands lifted high, I'm praying, beseeching that He would help us make sense of this.  That I could use the anger to propel me to make changes in my own life.  That I could just share Jesus, wherever that may be.

Hands lifted high, I'm thanking Him for this experience and His provision.

Hands lifted high, I'm begging Him to never let me forget.

Hands lifted high - praising the One Who made us all.

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