Sticky Fingers

We liked Mayra from the start. She was a troubled teen from a Honduran family who had immigrated to the United States. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Mayra’s behavior became a great burden to the family, and they sent her to live with her grandmother in Honduras, where she had been born. Although she definitely had her difficulties, she was friendly and a joy to be around. She began to come to church, some youth activities, and even over to visit us at the house now and then.

She showed up at our gate one evening in tears. She had gotten into a fight with her uncle’s family and had left in anger. We gave her supper, counseled her for over an hour, and insisted that she call her grandmother. We offered to let her stay overnight with us (with her grandmother’s permission) so that everyone could cool off before we took her back in the morning. We let her sleep in Claire’s room, and moved Claire into our room for the night.

Everything seemed to be fine the next week, but, sure enough, she appeared at the gate again on Saturday evening. It was not a good time; we had a group from the United States in for the week and were responsible for fixing meals and transporting them from place to place. But this was important; once again, we sat down with Mayra, listened to her side, and counseled her to apologize for her part in the family dissent. Again, we allowed her to stay the night, and I lent her clothes for Sunday morning service. After church, she went to visit some friends, and we returned home. She said she would return for her backpack later that afternoon.

After I put Claire down for her nap, I began to pick up the typical weekend clutter that had accumulated in the house. As I put towels away into the hall closet, I noticed the flatiron my parents had sent for my birthday was missing. Where in the world did I leave it? After searching for a few minutes, I began to get a sick feeling in my stomach. More things, as well as a small amount of cash I had in a drawer, were missing as well. Someone had taken them.

I went to Claire’s room, sat on the bed, and stared at Mayra’s book bag in the corner. She wouldn’t! We took her in, fed her, lent her clothes. She could have asked us for anything, and we would have given it to her! There’s got to be another explanation.

I went to Robbie’s office and filled him in. “What should I do? I don’t want to go through her things! That seems like a breach of trust…”

“Well, I can’t think of another place those things might be. Just go open the front pocket and see if you see anything suspicious.”

Sure enough, I opened the front pocket and thank-you notes from my drawer, pens and pencils, and pictures of Claire fell onto the bed. The other pockets contained larger items: an old baby bottle, small pictures frames, ponytail holders. The flatiron wasn’t there. In fact, everything in the backpack had very little value. If you were going to break our trust, why didn’t you at least take something worth stealing? This doesn’t make sense. There was nothing there (including the flatiron) that I wouldn’t have given her if she’d asked.

I was angry and hurt. We were trying to help Mayra! Why in the world would she steal from us?

We talked to her when she returned home and she apologized. She admitted to the items we found, but never did confess to taking the flatiron. It was long gone. We hugged and “made up” but it wasn’t over for me. Robbie was able to joke about it that same day when we showed up late at Matt and Dallita's because of dealing with the situation: "We had a family emergency! All our thank-you notes were stolen!" But I wasn't laughing along with him inside; I still felt hurt by Mayra’s actions. It took me weeks to truly forgive her.

How do we love, forgive, and minister to those who hurt and disappoint us? I’ve poured myself into someone and invested in her life, only to see her drop out of church, offend me, or lie to my face. How can I not take it personally? How is the failure of someone I have mentored not a slap in the face? How can I go to my next discipleship without thinking, “Maybe she too will let me down”?

It’s been one of the hardest battles of the ministry for me—loving people. I’ve got to love them as Christ did, with all their scars, their secrets, their skeletons in the closet. Why? Because I’ve got mine. So the minute I start to feel insulted, to feel personally offended by a wrong, I’ve become too proud. I’m mistakenly thinking, “I’d never do anything like that! I deserve better than this.”

No matter how many hours I invest in a person, she doesn’t “owe me.” She is not obligated to take my advice. She must make her own decisions. And when she doesn’t do what I want her to, that doesn’t sever our relationship. I’ve got to keep loving her. Because that’s what Christ did for me.

Love God. Love people. Unconditionally. It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do, but I can’t have an effective ministry without unconditional, long-suffering, limitless love.


I glanced at the clock on the dashboard and pressed the gas in our Nissan Frontier just a little harder. I was returning from a trip to the grocery store just before lunch time. Robbie and Claire were waiting, surely hungry by now.

To my dismay, I saw a long line of cars up ahead proceeding at a snail's pace up the steep hill to the cemetery on the side of the mountain. I was going to be seriously late.

On second thought...I had frequently been with Robbie when he whipped through some back roads in the colonias at the bottom of the hill. If I could do what he did and get ahead of the procession, I'd be home in no time! I hung a sharp left and bumped down the road, weaving my way home.

Roads in Honduras don't have names, so I had to rely on my view of the mountain to keep my bearings. At the same time, I was trying to pay close attention to the road itself, which was soggy from heavy rains. After a few minutes, I realized I had gone too far to the north and would have to correct my direction by cutting through a rough neighborhood. Not good.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I headed down the last street of the colonia and saw the steep road up the mountain up ahead. There was no sign of the procession; I had done it!

Just about that time, I felt my wheels slip. The rainy season had nearly destroyed this road, and the mud was affecting my steering. I corrected and recorrected, praying I wouldn't bump into any of the walls or fences lining the road.

I neared the final turn and saw that the road ended in a small U. Both ends connected to the next road. Why were there two? The one on the left was very muddy; the one on the right was grassy. Afraid to brake in the mud, I had to make a quick decision. Wanting out of the mire as quickly as possible, I opted for the grassy path. Bad move.

The entire front of the truck dropped into a huge ditch lying beneath the grass. My head hit the roof, and I knew...I was stuck.

I got out to inspect the damage. The grill guard was caught on the ridge of the drop off, and the entire front right tire was suspended in air. There was no way I could drive out of this one. I was going to have to call Robbie.

Back in the truck, I locked the door and grabbed the cell phone: "Robbie, can you come get me? I'm stuck at the bottom of the hill..." He was on his way before I could finish the sentence. He knew exactly what kind of neighborhood this was.

I double-checked the locks, got the cell phone out of sight, and began to pray. It wasn't too long before I was spotted.

El Chele staggered down the road and squinted at the truck leaning precariously into the ditch. “Just great,” I muttered. El Chele was a resistolero, a drug addict who got his highs from sniffing glue (a common addiction in many third-world countries). We’d been hassled by this guy before, and he was persistent. But Robbie had always been with me; this was much scarier. I sank a little lower in the seat, hoping the tint on the windows was dark enough.

It wasn’t. El Chele peered in and rapped on the glass.

“I’m fine! My husband’s coming down the road! He should be here any minute.” I tried to look confident, but my heart was beating out of my chest. El Chele continued to knock on my window. He wasn’t going anywhere.

“Lord, I need your help here!”

Just then, help came flying down the hill in a gold pick-up. Robbie and Nathan (our partner) had arrived! By now, a small crowd had gathered around the truck. Most of them didn’t look any better than El Chele, but that didn’t matter now. My knight in shining armor was here!

My scary experience brought to mind a Bible verse I'd often read:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. -Psalm 46:1

I've taken quite a few "wrong turns" on my Christian walk. But when I cry out to my Heavenly Father, He's faithful to rescue me from the mess I've made. Today, I'm praising Him for being my Knight in Shining Armor. Is He yours?

Iguana...It's What's for Dinner!

Any missionary can tell you one of the questions we are asked most when we return to the United States is, "What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?" I've eaten some pretty odd things (i.e. cow stomach soup), but iguana has to be at the top of my list! So here's a story in pictures! Enjoy!

The hunt begins!

Something's crawling around in that tree!

Can you spot our dinner?

Got one!

The mighty hunter returns!

They caught this one alive!

Cleaning the meat

You'll need vegetable oil, chicken bouillon, water, milk, onion, garlic, and lots and lots of fresh cilantro!

Admit it...this looks pretty good!

Who needs turkey??? Iguana--it's the other white meat.

Under Attack!

The yelps and barks from the side yard startled me, and the dish I'd been washing dropped into the sink. I peered out the window in time to see a Honduran woman on the other side of our chain link side fence stoop down, grab a rock, and hurl it at Roxy, our two year-old Rottweiler. Drying my hands on my apron, I flew out the side door and called out, "Stop throwing rocks! She can't hurt you!" The fact that our guard dog couldn't possibly leap over the seven-foot fence seemed to have escaped the woman, who continued to hurl rocks as fast as she could grab them. Roxy dodged the rocks and continued to bark furiously.

I grabbed Roxy by the collar and tried to no avail to drag her away from the fence. "Lady! Stop throwing rocks! She's not doing anything to you!" Now the rocks started coming in my direction!

Robbie had been collecting fruit from the cashew tree in the back yard. Hearing the commotion, he started walking toward the fence. He was surprised to see his apron-clad wife yelling at a small woman, chasing the dog in circles, and dodging rocks right and left. My attacker had not slowed in the least. As she continued to hurl rocks, the grimy dress she was wearing began to creep down to her waist. Robbie was almost doubled over laughing at the sight of me being pummeled by a half-naked, angry woman. He heard me yell, "Stop throwing rocks! And, good grief, pull your DRESS up!"

He helped me drag Roxy to the other side of the yard, and admonished me, "Chris, she's not all there, babe."

"What do you mean?" I looked a little more closely at my attacker. I felt my face grow hot as reality sank in. I had been yelling at a mentally challenged person. The poor woman had probably been frightened to death by our dog's barks and hadn't realized Roxy couldn't get to her. She obviously didn't understand what was going on at all. I had seen her as the aggressor and instantly made the situation worse by yelling. I ran to her to calm her down and apologize for my behavior.

Unfortunately, this isn't the only time I've been guilty of misjudging a person. Many times I focus on the rocks being hurled at me, failing to look beyond them at the hurt, the fear, the misunderstanding on the other side of the fence. I take things personally, I jump to conclusions, I preach my opinion. How many times have I stopped to ask questions? To try to see the situation from another's point of view? To show compassion?

I've got learn to shut my mouth and look past the rocks.

Much learning does not teach understanding. -Heraclitus

Out of our Element

"Daddy, what is THAT?" Robbie turned around to see a big-eyed little girl staring at the metal box that magically produced a stream of water.

"That's a water fountain," he replied, chuckling to himself.

"I'm thirsty!" she exclaimed, skipping over to the large box. She positioned herself in front of it, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth as wide as she could.

"Umm, Claire, you have to lean in like this, and push the button," Robbie instructed. She's a little behind the times...

Water fountains aren't the only magical treat Claire has encountered over the past couple of weeks. Our first trip to a mall on a Friday night proved just as fascinating. Robbie and I walked around feeling a little self-conscious. We were back! But did we look the part? I was in my own country, in a familiar place, but I didn't belong anymore. I felt like people were staring at us. "Do we look normal?" I whispered to Robbie.

He looked a little uncomfortable himself. "I think so...this is weird." We tried our best to nonchalantly browse the stores. I was careful not to gawk at price tags or stare at the weird sandal/boot shoes all the girls seemed to be wearing. Blend, blend! I told myself.

But four-year old Claire's eyes grew huge at the large bungee-rigged, bouncing contraption in the middle of the atrium. Then she almost yanked my arm off when we passed a large assortment of giant gumball machines. She found the smell of Cinnabon intoxicating. By the time we got to the food court, she couldn't contain herself any longer...

"I LOVE this place!" she shouted, twirling around with her hands thrown into the air.

Our faces flushed as the people at nearby tables stared our way. Robbie grabbed Claire's hand, muttering, "Way to blend."

We have been here a couple of weeks now, and I'm still not sure we are blending back into American society very well. Claire addresses anyone of another nationality (like our Chinese waitress or a Bahamian hotel steward) in Spanish. Elevators are thrilling rides. Toilet paper can now go into the potty. And Walmart, well, as she says, "I think this store has everything in the whole wide world!"

Life is anything but normal right now. We are traveling constantly and eating out
quite a bit. Robbie and I looked at each other in horror when Claire exclaimed, "In Honduras, you have to cook your food. But in the United States...they just bring it to you!"

So if you are out and about this week, and you see three weirdos oohing and aahing over a slushie machine or an all-you-can-eat buffet, just ignore us. Culture shock works both ways.

You need me...right?

Meetings, meetings, meetings. Every year about this time, we have our annual Staff Retreat to plan the upcoming year. We have a notebook with dividers for each team member to fill with his notes. One by one, all six team members go over their areas of responsibility in order to review what has been accomplished in the current year; then we give suggestions, ideas, and a specific plan for the upcoming year. How can we grow? Expand? Reach more?

This year, to save money, we didn't leave town for our "retreat." We retreated to Garris's bedroom (the toddler son of our partners, Nathan and Jennifer)! We met for three days, discussing, planning, scheduling. We finally have a 2011 calendar that will work! Now it just needs to be bathed in prayer and carried out.

One item of discussion that differs from any pastoral staff retreat in the U.S. is furlough. When a team member goes on furlough, he must present a plan in which his duties are covered for the 3 months or so that he will be gone. Robbie and I leave next week, so it was our turn to discuss furlough at this particular meeting.

As I went over who would teach my class, print bulletins, and mentor my disciples, my heart began to ache. How can I leave? What pastor and pastor's wife leave their church for three long months? What about finishing the new building? How can I not be here to decorate it at Christmas for the first time? What about my October ladies' meeting? Will Miriam, my mentoree, be okay while I'm gone? What about my 2-5 year-olds class? Will they wonder where I am? Understand why I had to go?

But as I looked around at the faces at the table, I knew. Nothing would change. Dallita will teach in my place at the ladies' meeting, and it will go smoothly. Jennifer can handle the rowdy 2-5 year-olds, probably much better than I can. The bulletin will be printed and on the table every Sunday morning. They could handle it.
I love being part of a team. I was a part of many teams growing up: basketball, volleyball, fast-pitch softball (my favorite!). When I made the varsity basketball team in 8th grade, I was thrilled! It was a dream come true. I only played in four games the entire season, and most of the time I went in just a minute or so before the final buzzer sounded (When it was too late to mess anything up!). But I practiced hard all summer, determined to be better. In 9th grade, I started every game! Looking back, it was probably more because of how many starters we lost rather than my improved skill, but it was thrilling nonetheless...I felt needed by the team for the first time! I was important!

Team Honduras is the best team I've ever "played" for. But I have come to realize, that I am not really needed. It's a privilege to be on this team. And if I don't come through, if I throw in the towel, God can easily use another in my place. I don't play because I have to. I play because I get to.

We've also discovered a few wonderful benefits to these long absences by each team member. First, we appreciate each other much, much more after we have had to cover their duties for a few months! There are so many things we all do that go unnoticed and unappreciated until someone else has to fill in. We love and respect each other much more as a result of these furloughs.

Second, there is an openness and a humility because we have walked in each other's shoes. If Dallita has a suggestion about how to improve the Ladies' Ministry, I don't think: Well, wait a minute! That's my area! It's none of her business. She's taught ladies' meetings in my place many times. She knows that ministry like I do. I listen to her ideas, because she's done the job, too. And I benefit from the fresh perspective.

Any missionary will tell you that leaving his field to go on furlough is difficult. But every missionary must acknowledge that he has a split ministry. I minister to the people of Iglesia Bautista El Faro, but there are also those State-side that we are responsible to minister to over the next three months. Pray with us that this furlough would be safe, effective, and God-honoring.

A Dios Sea La Gloria

We have just finished one of the most exciting weeks of ministry we've had in Honduras. I still can't believe we are finally in our own church building. So much work, prayers, sweat, and tears have gone into making this day possible. To God be the glory!

Below is the link to the video on Facebook (with English subtitles) that our partner in the ministry Matt Goins put together for our series of inauguration services. Please take a few minutes to reflect with us on all the Lord has done here in just over five years; we truly serve a great God.

"To God Be the Glory"

The Battle Wages

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

-Alexander Solzhenitzyn,
The Gulag Archipelago

Last week I headed out to the building site to work in Robbie's office. It's been a little project of mine for the past few months to get it ready for him. Now that Moving Day is almost here, it's finally time to start working on the details.

In order to prepare concrete walls for paint, they must be scraped with a metal spatula and sanded. It took me an entire day just to smooth the walls to an acceptable finish, though I did get a late start due to a protesters' road block that morning. After the walls were sanded, I cleaned them with a heavy-duty broom. When the cloud of concrete dust finally settled, they looked pretty good.

The next morning I applied a coat of primer to seal the walls and keep the paint from popping off from the moisture. Eric (*name has been changed), a young man who trusted Christ as a child and recently rededicated his life to the Lord, works on the crew out at the building site. Although he was laying tile this particular week, his specialty is painting (You have to know how to do a little of EVERYTHING when you work construction in Honduras!). I consulted him several times about the sanding technique and how to apply the primer. He showed me a few tricks and lent me a device he had fashioned to clean excess paint off the roller right out of the bucket. He even taped off a window for me as I worked, so that I wouldn't have to stop. As we worked, we listened to BBN, one of the few Christian stations broadcast in Honduras. The program "Unshackled" was playing, and Eric commented on how much he enjoyed that particular series. I knew Eric had a drinking problem and could relate to the stories that aired.

The next morning, I was finally able to begin painting with the colors I had selected for the room. It was exciting to see it all coming together. Eric came up to check on me, and saw me struggling to cut in the edges near the ceiling with a horribly cheap brush the paint store had sold me. "They just don't have good quality brushes here!" he sighed. "Wait a minute, I've got something you can use." He came back with his backpack and removed a 45 degree angled brush with a wooden handle. He presented it to me with obvious pride. "My twin brother works as a painter in Georgia; he sends me brushes sometimes. It'll be much easier to work with this."

I thankfully accepted the brush and soon learned he was right; I was able to work twice as fast and quickly finished the first coat. When Eric saw me beginning to put my supplies away, he offered to wash out my tray, brushes, and roller. I saw him carefully wash and dry his angled brush, then place it back in its original packaging. I felt guilty for even using it; it was clearly a prized possession.

I called my mom that night and asked if she and Dad could pick up some new brushes for me before they come down on Friday. I thought it would be a nice way to thank Eric for his help on Robbie's office.

Last night I learned the main part of the crew had finished their jobs at the church and would not be working today. I called Alex the foreman first thing this morning to see if he could get in touch with Eric; I could hire him to finish the second coat on Robbie's office so that I could work here at the house.

Alex called back a few minutes ago with bad news. He had looked for Eric for a good part of the morning and finally found him at a neighborhood bar, drunk and unable to work. My heart hurts for him, knowing what a battle he is in.

It's so tempting to herd people into groups. The good and the evil. But the truth is, we all are both. We are all in a battle. I am praying that the Lord will do a work in Eric's heart and that he will one day have his own "Unshackled" story to tell.

I also pray He will work in my own heart. May I never think that I am one of the "good." My heart is no different from Eric's; there is good, but there is evil as well. I must daily surrender my will, crucify the flesh, and pray for victory. He is the only One who has the power to unshackle.

Team Honduras Presents...Creatures!

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The Missionary Life

Goodbyes, a plane ride,
My life’s in a crate;
New land, strange place,
My stomach’s got an ache…

¿Como está, señor?
What did he say?
Mas lento, por favor,
A hundred times a day.

Concrete walls,
And tile on the floor
Tiny geckos scamper
Behind a cupboard door.

Tropical sun,
My coke’s in a bag,
Sitting on a porch
Where time seems to drag.

Crowding in a bank line,
Praying for grace,
These people don’t know about
My personal space.

Brown tap water
Makes your belly reel.
Trip to the pharmacy,
Parasite pill.

Man beside the road
Stabbed with a knife,
No one cares to cover up,
Forgotten life.

Late night music
From the party down the street
Put a pillow on your head,
Walls shaking to the beat.

Civil unrest
And riots downtown,
Until the weary curfew ends
We’re all on lockdown.

Bible Club bug bites,
Itchy legs and feet,
Better grab the Calamine
‘Cause we forgot the Deet.

There goes the power
But it’s all right,
We’ve got a generator
To get us through the night.

Bumping down the road
In a loaded pickup truck,
If it starts to rain,
We’re all out of luck!

Going door to door
Down the dusty street,
Precious gospel given
To everyone we meet.

Sunday morning on a porch
The seats begin to fill.
Short sermon, raised hand,
Amazing thrill!

Little brown hand
Slips into my own.
She calls me, Hermana,
But I’m the only mom she’s known.

Here comes a group
From the USA!
Debbie snacks and Slim Jims
Headed our way!

Believer’s baptism
In a mountain stream,
Living testimony
Of a heart that’s clean.

Prayer letter’s due,
Furlough’s just ahead
We’re only here because of folks
Who gave as they were led.

In a borrowed minivan
We make our stateside rounds,
Been to every Cracker Barrel,
Gained twenty pounds.

Shopping with my sis
Down every Target aisle
These shoes are all so ugly!
Wait…am I out of style?

Preacher says, “Thank you, Lord,
For those who will go
To give someone the gospel,
In a place where they don’t know.”

Some seem to pity me
“That poor missionary,
Foreign land, safety threats…
Must be pretty scary!”

My mind’s eye quickly sees
A dearly-missed brown face,
And I know without a doubt,
I’d never trade my place.

In honor of some of our missionary friends (and many others not listed!):

Matt and Dallita Goins

Nathan and Jennifer Massey

Mark and Amy Coats
Currently in Costa Rica (language school)
Journey to Honduras

Brad and Tricia Henderson

Brad and Kelleigh Edmondson
Medical Missions Outreach

LeRoy and Amber Rolston
Rolston Ministries

Family Night

Once a week, we have "Family Night" with Claire. We usually play board games, read books, or watch a movie together. I know many other families do the same. If you're looking to mix it up a little, here's an idea for a missions-themed family night.

World Missions Family Night

To prepare, choose a country and missionary family to learn about and pray for. It's a good idea to choose a couple with children about the same age as your own kids. Use the internet to learn some fun facts about the country, and try to obtain a prayer card or recent prayer letter from the missionary family so that your kids can see whom they are praying for.

Family Night begins with a great dinner. If you are brave (and your children aren't too picky!) you can try a recipe from the country you are focusing on! If you want to start smaller, a new dessert is a good idea. If you choose Honduras, or another Latin American country, here is a great homemade flan recipe from a lady in our church.

1 can of condensed milk
2 cans of evaporated milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Caramelize the sugar in a heavy skillet over med-high heat until the sugar begins to melt. Shake the skillet to heat evenly, but do not stir. Once it begins to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 more minutes until all the sugar is melted and golden. Stir with a wooden spoon as needed. Pour the melted sugar into the bottom of a glass 8x8 baking dish or a pie plate. Place this dish in a larger dish (13x9 works well) so that there is space all around the smaller dish.

Heat a medium saucepan of water on high heat. While it is coming to a boil, beat the milks and eggs until well-combined (but not frothy). Pour the egg/milk mixture into the 8x8 dish. When the water boils, pour it into the 13x9 baking dish so that it surrounds the smaller dish. The depth of the water should be about 1 inch.

Bake in 325 degree oven for about an hour, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

If you want to serve it warm, cool slightly on a wire rack. Before serving, loosen the edges of the flan with a knife. Invert over a large serving dish.

If you want to serve it chilled, cool on a wire rack then cover and chill in the refrigerator. Loosen edges with knife, and invert over a serving dish.

After dinner, take some time to learn about the missionary's country. A globe or a world map will help. Keep the facts fun and interesting. Try to pronounce a few words or phrases in the language of that country (You are guaranteed to get some laughs!). Read the prayer letter (or only highlight portions if it is long) and have a prayer time for the missionary family and the people of the country. Consider writing the family to tell them you prayed for them; you could also ask them questions your children may have about the mission field. Smaller children can draw pictures and dictate their letter. While they work, play music from the country of choice (found on the internet).

Throughout the night, ask your children questions to get them thinking about the mission field, such as:

1. What do you think would be the hardest part of living in another country?
2. What do you think you would like best about living in another country?
3. Why does God call people to live in other countries, far away from their homes?
4. What could you do to serve God in another country?

Develop a heart for the mission field at an early age! Sadly, many American children grow up oblivious to other cultures and assume the rest of the world lives just as they do. Open your children's eyes to the needs around the world. Who is waiting for your child to share the gospel? What will you do as a parent to make that happen?

If you are interested in doing a "Honduran Family Night" email me at for a free information packet.

The Return of Barracuda

I was surprised to see a familiar face at the construction site of our new church building. How do I know that guy? Robbie exclaimed, “Do you know who that is? That’s Barracuda!”

Daniel, known as Barracuda by his friends, was a young man we had briefly met in 2005, our first year of ministry in Honduras. He had come to a Men’s Meeting where my father, Ricky Tippett, gave a lesson and spoke with him about his need for Christ. Dad was burdened for Daniel, knowing his lost condition. He took a picture of the him with Robbie, hung it on the wall in his office, and prayed for him faithfully for four years. Robbie had seen the picture on our last furlough, commenting, “Wow, I haven’t seen that guy since he came to that meeting! I wonder what ever happened to him…”

When he showed up unexpectedly a few months ago, Robbie told Alex, the foreman, about the picture. “My father-in-law has been praying for that guy every day.”

Alex raised his eyebrows and nodded with understanding, “Well, that’s why he’s still alive then! I wondered how he had survived this long…someone is praying for him!” He then went on to tell how Barracuda had made some bad choices and gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd. He’d gone back to where he’d grown up, the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. He lived a life of alcohol, drugs, and gangs. Through some bad dealings, he’d become a wanted man by one of the gangs. When he realized they would not stop until he was dead, he’d returned to Progreso and sought refuge with Alex. Alex found a little room where he could live and helped him out with a job. Of course, he told him that in order to live there, he would need to clean up his act and come to church. At the end of his rope, Barracuda agreed.

A couple of weeks later, Robbie called Dad with some exciting news. “You know that guy whose picture is on your wall? Well, he got saved last night!” Four years after their meeting, Daniel had trusted Christ as his personal Savior.

Daniel began his new life with almost nothing. We were able to get him a Bible, toiletries, and used clothing to wear to church. He arrived early each service and read his Bible until everyone else arrived. As excited as he was to begin his walk with the Lord, he deeply missed his family in the Bay Islands. Though his life was in danger, he packed up his bags and returned.

This young man has much to overcome, but God has preserved his life and forgiven his sins. We can’t wait to see how He will continue to work in Daniel’s life! Please pray that he will not fall into temptation to return to former sins and that he'll be a testimony of the changing power of the Holy Spirit.

Design on a Lempira

I feel like I just spent a week in someone else's life.

I've always enjoyed anything to do with decorating. When we lived in the States, my favorite channel was HGTV. I remember watching design shows in which homeowners would work with an interior decorator to create a beautiful space. Although I was fascinated by these shows, I never dreamed I'd ever actually get to work with an interior designer. Foreign missions and interior design just don't go together. Life in a third-world country is much more rustic; we think functionally and worry little about aesthetics. Working with an interior designer would never happen here...or so I thought.

About six months ago, I began to plan and save for Robbie's new office, which will be located in the new church building. I wanted to have a desk and built-in bookshelves made for him. One night I was talking to my mom on Skype, I mentioned that I wish I knew more about interior design, because I'd love to make his office look very professional and distinguished. She replied, "You know, I should ask Liza Ellis if she could help you." I had never met Liza, but she'd been coming to Mom's Sunday school class for several months. She had a degree in interior design and was working at an architectural firm in Raleigh.

"Do you really think she'd mind a few questions? I would love to get an idea of paint colors and how to do the curtains for that arched window!"

I began to communicate with Liza by email over the next few weeks. Before I knew it, she had sent me a beautiful plan for Robbie's office, complete with paint colors and fabric swatches. It was a dream come true!

Robbie's future office began to take shape. But the rest of the building still needed work. Our situation here is quite different from building a church in the U.S. We cannot finance this project. We pay for it as the money comes in. The plan is to get the building to occupancy level in order to move in as soon as possible. Then, we will do detail work (paint, ceramic, drop ceilings) as the funds are available. Since we'd be working project by project over the course of several months or even years, our concern was that the building would be a patchwork of different designs. We needed one overall design scheme. Since Liza seemed so willing to help, I timidly asked her if she'd mind advising us on wall colors for other areas of the building.

After we relayed to Liza our needs for the new building, she put together designs for the two nursery rooms and three classrooms. Then this past week, she flew down to spend eight days with us. She toured the new building and gave us ideas for some problem areas. We went to lighting, paint, and ceramic tile stores where she found beautiful choices for the classrooms, offices, kitchen, and bathrooms. We can't purchase everything right away, but when we do, the building will have an professional, cohesive design.

I am still pinching myself! I just spent a week with a professional designer who came to work on our building, free of charge! Who would have thought?

Our heavenly Father delights in surprising His children with special, unexpected blessings. It has been our prayer that this church building be a testimony of excellence and beauty to reflect the character of the Lord. And He answered this prayer above and beyond anything we could have imagined!

Mi Casa Es su Casa

This week, I'd like to invite you to our home! Missionary homes may vary greatly, depending on the area of the country, but our home is typical for an average missionary in Central America. Welcome!

This is our house as you drive up. It's pretty standard in Honduras to have a security wall or high fence for safety reasons. Almost everyone gets broken into at some point, so we have to take every precaution possible. We live on a dirt road, even though we live in town. Only the main streets are paved in our town.

As you walk through the front gate, you will see the carport and porch area. It's very nice to have a porch in Honduras, because the house gets very hot. We often eat or visit with guests on the porch instead of inside.

This is our guard dog, who is about to have puppies!

One thing I love about Honduras is the beautiful plant life. In our yard, we have a cashew tree, two guanabana trees, an orange tree, and a mango tree.

This is a view of our side yard. We are very thankful for a large yard, a rare find in this country. We've been able to host many youth activities and large church events here.

Now let's go inside!

This is our living room/dining room area. The open floor plan has been perfect for hosting large groups. We shove all the furniture into the other rooms and the hallway, and can fit quite a few people in here! We even held Wednesday night Bible studies here before we had a church house. The windows in this area and the kitchen stay open 24/7 year-round in order to take advantage of any breeze coming off the mountain, since this part of the house is not air-conditioned.

Beyond the dining room, you can see the hallway leading to the bedrooms. And through the arched opening on the right is the kitchen. You will notice that the walls are all concrete and the floors are all tiled--no carpet in Honduras! It wouldn't last long with all the dirt and dust we have!

The kitchen is where I spend a LOT of time! Missionary wives learn to cook for a crowd! There are church events, medical brigades, youth groups...we are cooking machines!

We have a double sink that works great for the disinfection process. No, we don't have a dishwasher (and I'm not sure how well one would work, anyway, since we don't have hot water). Since we wash by hand with cold water, we place dishes into a container filled with bleach water (which I change at least once a day). They soak here for a few minutes before I place them aside to dry. We also soak fruit and vegetables here to clean them of any pesticides.

Since the water here is unsafe for drinking, we purchase water jugs from a truck that come through the neighborhood daily. We use this water for drinking, cooking, and brushing our teeth.

These are louvered windows, which are slats of glass that we can open with a knob. We have screens to help with insects and dust; we have to hose these down pretty frequently.

Heading back up the hallway, we turn to the left into Robbie's office. He will be moving out shortly when the church building is completed (we are praying to be in by September 19); I plan to convert this space into a homeschool room for Claire to begin K-4. I am very thankful to be able to have an area specifically for homeschooling!

This is our master bedroom. I've tried to make it a real haven; it's so nice to go in at night, take a shower, and run the AC! We are very thankful for our room!

This is the master bath. When we first moved in, we called it the psych ward bath--all white, white tile, and a shower with a long hose to spray cold water! Just recently, I was able to paint and redecorate it to warm it up a bit. One thing that's different about bathrooms in Honduras is that you can't flush TP; the pipes are too small and are easily clogged. We keep a lined trashcan with a lid beside the toilet and empty it frequently. Americans usually forget at some point, so the rule in our house clog it, you plunge it!

Now heading to the right side of the hallway...looking through another archway, we have a wall of closets. This has been a huge blessing because most homes in Honduras have very little closet space and no attic.

The middle closet door opens to reveal...the guest bathroom! One difference from homes in the U.S. is that bathtubs here are a rare luxury. We use a small plastic tub placed in the shower to bathe Claire, but she's also gotten used to the showers. One thing I love to do when I go back to the States to visit is take a nice hot bath!

To the left of the closets, we have a guest room that serves as my office right now.

To the right of the closets is Claire's room.

This is a typical closet (we have these in the three bedrooms). You have a built-in dresser area with drawers behind one door. Behind the other two doors is room for hanging clothes. Above are three doors for storage.

Now let's head out the kitchen door to the right side of the house. Here we keep our drinking water jugs on the sidewalk that surrounds the house (another unique Honduran home feature). To the right, beyond the big palm is the clothesline, and beyond that is the bodega.

A bodega is a storage building behind Honduran homes. In front, they always have a pila. We are blessed to also have a cistern and pump.

A pila is a large holding tank for water. Our water goes out very frequently here, so we can use this water in reserve to wash clothes, bathe, and flush toilets. Notice the scrubbing area. Most of my washing I do in a washing machine, but this scrubbing board does come in handy for the mop and anything I want to wash by hand (which we must do if the water or power are out).

Beyond the pila is an open-air room that holds our freezer, washer, dryer, and cleaning supplies.

Honduran homes have a "servant's quarters" in the bodega because it's common to have a live-in maid. Since we don't, we have fixed up this area for guests and interns--missionaries have LOTS of visitors! We just had a young man finish an eight-week internship, and this room and bath was just perfect for him.

We are very thankful for the home the Lord provided for us. Above all, we pray that it is a blessing and a haven to those who stop by, whether it be for several weeks or just a few hours.
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